It’s no fun to be close to a horse that is panicking and tied — whether it be in a cross tie or a trailer. While some people strongly believe that it’s safer if the horse can’t get break loose, I have been in situations where a quick release mechanism would have been essential.
For example, there’s the woman who twice dropped the butt bar on my trailer before unfastening her horse. The first time he flew backwards off the ramp, he merely broke my trailer tie. The second time, after she had tied him with a lead rope, he got hung up half on and half off the ramp. Neither the rope nor his leather halter broke, but he sure did some damage to my trailer!
Now, I’ve been guilty of that sin myself, although never twice in one day. The time it happened to me, my horse’s halter broke. Not much fun to have a halterless horse running around while you try to catch it, especially if it’s not a secure location.
Regular “panic” snaps aren’t not that effective — IMHO — for two reasons: first, they don’t release automatically and second, you run the risk of having the tie (with the snap attached) flying across the aisle if you need a quick release, or dragging alongside your horse creating additional panic!
Personally, I now use Tie Safe Velcro Cross Ties and Trailer Ties. It has a quick release snap on one end, and a velcro attachment and a double velcro release near the swivel namp. The velcro closure is pretty secure; it takes quite a bit of force to “break” them, and when the do come apart, there’s a short length of tie that is still attached to your horse’s halter, making it far easier to catch and lead your horse. They are easy to put back together, too. I’ve been using them now for about 5 years and have had my horse pull through the cross ties twice, both times when my horse objected to the same farrier. Now that I’ve switched farriers, I’ve had no problems with them (so I did not have the problem of my horse learning that he could go through the ties).
However, there are some other interesting alternatives on the market.
The Blocker Tie Ring: The Blocker tie ring was invented by Ted Blocker, who wanted to find a more humane way to tie a horse. He had seen many horses injured — or even killed — when tied, and seen people hurt trying to get the horse loose.
The Blocker Tie Ring helps to prevent panic (and injury) because when the horse pulls hard on the lead, some of the rope slips the tie ring, releasing pressure. The tie is adjustable so that you can regulate the amount amount of force needed to cause the tie to give some release and reduce pain and pressure.
The newest version of the Blocker Tie Ring includes a Mag Loc mechanism (a magnet that helps to keep the tongue of the tie ring in place), a special quick snap with a tapered back so you can easily clip the tie ring to existing hooks, and is smaller and lighter, making it easier to use where space is tight.
Turtle Snaps: These are a variation on panic snaps that can be easily released with one hand, and which will release under pressure if you are not able to get to the horse. To release the snap, you don’t even have to touch the thumb rest; you simply pull on any part of the black cover. To attach the snap, you push the thumbrest forward.
The Clip: Like the Blocker Tie Ring, the Clip provides a mechanism for tying your horse that allows for some “give” in the rope if the horse panics and pulls back. Even if the horse pulls, it’s easy to release the quick release stopper knot when you use the clip (if you tie with just a rope, the quick release knot can tighten and make the problem worse.)
The tension is easily adjusted using a screw so if you have a horse that likes to test the rope, you can make it more difficult for him to pull it through.
Baling Twine: The least expensive solution is to put a small loop of baling twine between the snap and the wall, or at the end of the tie with a regular clip. Most of the time the baling twine will break when a horse panics, but you have to be careful with some of the new plastic twine as it is a bit too durable!
I am quite intrigued by the Blocker Tie and The Clip. For years I’ve avoided tying my horse to my trailer when at a hunt because I felt I did not have a good, safe method to do so. I may give these two a try!