Tying: Safety Knots and Cross-Ties Copy

Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Tying: Safety Knots and Cross-Ties Copy

Safety Knot

There are a variety of safety knots. Whenever you do tie a horse with a knot, as opposed to quick-release snaps, it must be one that releases well under pressure (literally and figuratively)! During the practicum we can demonstrate and practice some that are best able to be untied even when tightened by a pulling horse.


Horses that are groomed or tacked up in an aisleway or grooming stall are often cross-tied, meaning that ropes are attached to a wall on either side of the horse and snap to the halter on the left and right. This may help keep the horse more stationary, and prevent them turning around to bite. Important considerations for cross-tying include:

  •       Is the horse well-trained for cross-ties?
  •       Does the horse have good, non-slip footing to stand on?
  •       Are there quick release snaps or twine that will break under pressure at the halter and/or wall/post attachments?


Injuries can occur as a result of cross-ties. If the horse feels restricted, they may panic and slip or fall or even rear and fall backward. Usually this happens because the handler was not patient or did not take the time to find out if the horse had been trained to cross-tie. Never assume that a horse has been cross-tied and will stand quietly in the ties. Another drawback to cross-ties for a massage is the decreased ability for the horse to participate by moving, scratching an itch, giving you more body language to communicate, or simply lowering their head in relaxation. With all that considered, there may still be times that cross-ties are a good option, assuming the horse is familiar with them, such as when you want to use a stool and need level footing and for horses that are nippy.