Posted by: Realist | August 18, 2008

Lessons with Rope, Clasps, and the Tie Ring

My wife had a frustrating day with my horse Montana and threatened to sell him, so I realized that I’d better start working with him rather than let him sit in the field doing nothing for weeks on end. I decided to start with desensitization, as my wife complained that he was quite spooky on the trail when she rode him.

I decided to tie him up to a 6×6 post, using Clinton Anderson’s Aussie tie ring, which I love. I also decided to use Monty Robert’s Dually Halter, which I had a lot of success using with Montana, as he quickly gave to pressure in previous sessions. Finally, I grabbed a plastic storage bag which makes a sharp sound when flapped.

I started off tying Montana using the Dually Halter, which is a no-no if you’ve read the instructions. I figured since I was using the Aussie tie ring he wouldn’t be able to hurt himself, as the tie ring would allow the rope to slip through if given enough pressure. I’ve seen so many things go wrong with our horses that I’m usually pretty careful/paranoid (e.g, I always wear steel-toed boots and carry a knife), but today I was about to see one more thing go wrong.

I was using a lead rope that I rarely use, which was different than most of our home-made ropes from Home Depot. I didn’t realize it was a smaller diameter rope. Anyway, within the first few seconds of desensitization using the plastic bag, Montana quickly pulled the entire 12 foot lead rope through the tie ring and went running across the field. Mind you this rope is attached to the Dually Halter, which when pulled tightens the halter around the nose. I cringed as I imagined him stepping on the lead rope and breaking the bones in his nose. Fortunately, everything was OK.

The rope slipped through the tie ring far quicker than I’ve seen before, so I rechecked the tie ring and discovered that due to the smaller diameter rope the tie ring wasn’t putting any friction on the rope. Hence, I could easily pull the rope through with my hands. I spent the next 5 minutes trying to figure out a way to use the tie ring with more friction but without having the rope lock up. Here’s what I came up with:

Double loop with the Aussie Tie Ring

Double loop with the Aussie Tie Ring

Be aware that the orientation of the loop makes a difference. The wrong way and the rope can lock up tight.

So we tried again. Only this time I switched to a regular halter, since I didn’t want him to get hurt.

Montana was doing great with the plastic bag, and I was doing the standard approach/retreat, and only escalating gradually at a pace he could handle.

Then I guess I escalated just a little too much, or he crossed some invisible mental threshold, and he started pulling back hard on the line. He pulled and reared and pulled some more. The rope was sliding through the tie ring gradually (since I had it double looped), then bang, the clasp broke and he went running across the field again.

You can see the broken clasp below:

Broken Lead Rope Clasp

Broken Lead Rope Clasp

Well, I hated to end the training session with Montana racing across the field, but I didn’t have another rope that was long enough to use with the tie ring (longer than 10 feet).

The next day I went to Home Depot and bought 16 feet of 5/8″ rope. I also got a clasp that could handle over 200 pounds of tension without breaking. Although 16 feet is too long for typical groundwork, it’s a nice length for tying Montana to the Aussie tie ring, since it provides plenty of rope to pull through the ring. The downside is 5/8″ rope is smaller than our other Home Depot rope, and this slips through the tie ring even easier, to the point where I can’t even use the tie ring with this rope, even double looped. Of course, I didn’t know this when I bought the rope. Next time I’ll bring the tie ring with me to Home Depot. (Jeez, why do all our ropes end up being different diameters?) Even better, I’ll find a source for real yaht rope.

As for the brass clasp that broke, I found similar ones at Home Depot with only about a 50 pound strength rating. Well, I won’t be using those anymore.

I’ve been using rock climbing carabiners as a quick way to attach the tie rings to various locations, since I move them around. I’m about ready to start using rock climbing figure-8 rappelling devices as jury-rigged tie rings. I think there may be more options to handle ropes of different diameters. I love the idea of the Aussie tie ring, I’m just having trouble with certain rope diameters.



  1. Just looked at Clinton Anderson’s site (his is the “Aussie Tie Ring by Blocker) to see if the tie ring was the same as the one from Clintons is an earlier version of the Blocker Tie Ring 2 I just got which includes a dvd showing 3 progressively more secure ways to tie up. The rope diameter is a factor but I think you can go to the second level tie with a thinner rope to compensate. This version has a magnet to hold the tongue in place and comes with a heavy duty carabiner and screw in O ring. My Anglo-Arab who just discovered being tied is no longer terrifying. Good luck.

  2. i am in uk where can i get these tie rings?
    any suggetions gratefully accepted

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: