how to tie up a horse

How To Tie Up A Horse: An Expert Guide

We can’t leave our lead ropes hanging over the horse’s neck and just hope that they’ll be there when we return. Knowing how to correctly tie your horse to a ring or hitching post is an essential skill that any equestrian should know. But this needs to be done correctly to ensure the safety of the horse.

You can tie your horse to a solid object such as a hitching post, metal ring or cross ties. This is done to prevent them from wandering around. This can be especially useful when you are grooming your horse or if you are gearing up to ride.

Follow this guide to become a master at tying a horse.

Horse tied up to a ring

Tie Up Your Horse Safely

Before you tie your horse to the nearest cross ties (which uses two ropes), hitching post or fence rail, there are a few key points that you need to be aware of.

Halter or Headcollar

Make sure to use a well-fitted halter or headcollar that is secure around the horse’s head. Ensure the lead rope is not damaged in any way. You will then use the rope end to tie your horse.


Don’t use a bridle when tying up a horse. If the horse is in distress, it can cause serious injury to its head and mouth, and damage the bridle.

Clydesdale horse in his bridle

Don’t tie the horse up with it’s bridle

Kicking range

Make sure your horse is away from other horses. This will avoid injury and property damage.

Tie the knot at eye level or higher

Don’t tie your horse close to the ground because the horse can stand on the rope and potentially cause harm. Instead, tie the knot at eye level or even higher. This will keep the rope out of harm’s way.

Two shetland ponies tied up ready to ride

Tying the knot at eye level is easy with the Shetlands

Rope Slack

Allow enough pulling room on the rope for the horse to have some length to move with. The rope should have a gentle hanging loop in it.


If your horse is going to be tied up for a long time, it’s a good idea for it to have some form of shelter from mother nature. This can be under a large shady tree or inside a barn. Ensure your horse has plenty of food and water. If they will be standing for a long time, make sure they are not on hard ground as this is painful on their joints.

Know how to untie the rope

Knowing how to untie a knot is just as important as knowing how to tie one. Untie the horse first before removing the halter clip with your right hand. Then allow the horse to move away freely.

Girl next to norwegian Fjord horse ready to ride

Pulling down on the rope (Blue arrow) will release the horse when you use a highwaymans hitch.

Popular Knots To Use

Many knots can be used to tie horses. The best knots are loose ones that will untie easily and quickly. Two common ones are bowline and quick-release knots.

Bowline knot

This knot is excellent because it won’t tighten if a horse pulls on it. It can also be untied quickly in case of an emergency – to release the knot, pull on the loose end of the rope.

This knot is also more suited to those escape artist horses who know how to untie themselves! Here’s how to tie a bowline knot:

  • In your left hand, take the horse’s end (also known as the standing end) of the rope and wrap the loose end around the pole that you will be using.

  • Twist a loop in the standing end and push the other end through.

  • Wrap the loose end back over the standing end and back again through the loop, but this time go the other way.

  • Pull on both ends of the rope to tighten the knot.

Quick release knot

A quick-release knot is simple and easy to use. The knot will tighten if the horse pulls on the rope. To release the knot, pull on the loose end of the rope. Here’s how to tie a quick-release knot:

  • Make a fold in the rope and fold it over the pole of the ring you will be using.

  • Make another fold further along the rope, closer to the tail end of the rope.

  • Pull the first fold through the second fold.

  • With your other hand, make a fold in the loose end of the rope and pull this through the second fold that you made.

  • Pull on the rope that leads to the horse. This will tighten the knot.

  • Tug on the loose end to release the knot.

Don’t be in a hurry when tying a horse. It’s best to take it slow and be sure you’ve done a good job.

Once you’re confident, tying a knot is fairly easy. And if you don’t get it right the first time, keep trying. Practice makes perfect!

Training Horses To Stand Quietly

Training a horse from the ground is just as important as training them under saddle. Whether you’re in the barn, in the training ring or on the grass, a well-behaved horse will avoid injury.

A horse that’s comfortable standing still (and stand tied up) will be easy to work with. This will make many day-to-day horse tasks a breeze.

How do you get a horse to stand still while tied up?

This is a matter of patience and perseverance. Make sure your horse is calm and relaxed and make sure there are no distractions. Help them to be balanced when standing. Practice leaving your horse tied daily for a few minutes and then increase the time as your horse becomes more comfortable.


Should you hard tie a horse?

You must never use hard tying knots when tying your horse. The horse can break its neck if it begins pulling back.

What knot do you tie a horse to a rail?

Quick-release knots work best. It makes tying safe and simple.

How long should a horse be tied?

A horse can be tied up for an hour a day to get used to it. A horse should never be left tied up overnight or longer than a few hours. It can impact their happiness and health.

Similar Posts