Tack and equipment are a big part of training horses. We have many options out there today to choose from and every horse and rider is different. We all feel differently about every piece of equipment, so how do you choose what you need?

We are going to discuss tie downs. Some always say yes to tie downs, some say it depends and some try to stay clear of them by any means necessary.

It’s important to keep in mind that some tools are temporary. We evolve just like our horses, so what may have worked in the past might not work anymore and it’s our job as the trainer and rider to figure that out. The use of tie downs in barrel racing has been around for years and years. They range from thick flexible leather nosebands to thin solid steel hitting the bridge of their nose. Like any piece of equipment, they can be dangerous and torturous for the horses in the wrong hands. 

Tiedowns have a place in the tack room but not on every horse. It is our job to decide when it seems fitting to use a tie down and for what purpose.

– Does your horse need more balance and stiffness? Then perhaps a leather tie down will improve your communication and create that wall for them to feel secure and stable. 

– Does your horse toss their head anytime you use the reins? Then maybe it’s time to understand your bits better and uncover the reason why your horse is tossing its head before you mask the behaviour with another tool.

Horses communicate without the use of speech, therefore it is our job to listen to them in other forms. This is through our intuition, our energy, verbal cues, posture, body language and other hidden components to language horses respond to that we as riders can be unaware of. At the end of the day, tools are simply tools and there isn’t one magic tool to make a horse perform how we want. It takes understanding them and working with them, not against them.

It’s our job as trainers to educate the horses, if they aren’t educated then we have no one else to blame but ourselves. Use the tools, but don’t rely on them to do all the work.

When there are no shortcuts, there are also no holes.

Do the work, take your time, teach them the way, guide them, allow them to make mistakes and correct them as you go. You can create a beautiful working relationship where you and your horse can shine as brightly as possible. It’s time to shine!