Cross-ties take a lot of beating. When matched against a 1,200-pound horse — especially one in a panic — you can expect something has to give. This is why tying a horse by a lead shank, chain or reins is always a bad idea. A sudden loud noise from behind or even a blowing tissue caught in the horse’s peripheral vision can cause even the best-broke horse to bolt. If your cross-ties don’t give, something in your horse’s body may. A momentary scare can turn the situation into a nightmare.
Cross ties-have three major tasks:
• They must be strong enough to hold a horse in a normal situation.
• They should be flexible enough to “give” a little when the horse leans on them.
• They must have some sort of panic release for safety.
It helps if the cross-ties are made of a material that can be cut in an emergency. Obviously, chains or metal cables never should be used as cross-ties.
We are wary of attaching a heavy metal quick-release snap to the wall, if that is the only release. If these snaps release and the horse gets loose, he will be running around with a heavy metal object flying around at the end of a long rope. We generally prefer the safety release made for the end near the horse’s head.
In addition, those who make homemade quick-release cross-ties using a piece of baling twine (which is easily broken under stress) at the end of the tie should secure the twine to the end near the horse’s head.
The cross-ties we tested all met the minimum requirements for safety when used properly. We used these cross-ties in an active multi-discipline training barn and looked at safety, ingenuity of design, ease of use and cost.
Turtle Snaps were the most attractive cross-ties we tested and are made of one-inch flat nylon strapping. Each strap adjusts from about 40” to 80” to accommodate your situation.
The quick-release feature is built into the snap that attaches to the horse’s halter. Instead of traditional, bulky, quick-release snaps, the Turtle Snap has a black housing that releases the plier-like jaws of the snap inside.
To open the Turtle Snap, just slide the button forward on the side of the housing. It only takes one hand to use. To release the snap, just slide the black housing backward.
An added safety feature of the Turtle Snap is that it will self-release under a panic load, which is defined by the manufacturer as “about 380 pounds.”
Although the Turtle Snaps will hold the horse who leans on it, giving slightly under that load because of the nylon material comprising the straps, it will not self-release because two separate mechanisms control these functions. The snap releases only when your horse’s panic is close to breaking its halter.
The opposite end of the cross-tie has a 3 ??” spring-loaded, interlocking oval snap to accommodate most moorings.
We found this cross-tie performed to manufacturer’s claims, and it looked quite elegant hanging on the wall. $14.50 each.
Tie-Safe cross-ties, from Equestrian International, have an interesting hook-and-loop fastener to hold the halter-snap end together with the quick-release wall snap. The brass halter snap is stitched into a 9 ??” heavy-duty, double-sided hook-and-loop fastener strap. This strap is sandwiched between a split at the end of the wall-snap side of the tie. The hook-and-loop fastener piece holds the halter-snap end firmly in place until a panic situation arises. Then it separates, releasing the horse.
The advantage to the separating tie is that the escaping horse is not trailing the tie as it runs in panic. This is important. Horses have been known to snap their necks when they step on a tie or shank mid-stride at a gallop. Additionally, the short strap left on the halter affords an added “handle” when trying to catch the horse.
Should you need to release the tie from its mooring, a standard quick-release snap attaches the tie to the mooring. Again, even if the horse tramps on the tie after it is freed by the quick-release snap, the hook-and-loop end should break away, preventing injury.
By moving the halter-snap end of the tie either in or out of the split of the wall-snap end, you can adjust the amount of hook-and-loop hold exerted. This is an excellent product for training youngsters to tie because of its adjustable hold and clear-cut safety features. This product amply lived up to manufactures’ claims.
Tie-Safe cross-ties are made of 1” flat nylon with attractive brass snaps at either end. $16.95/pair.
Although not cross-ties, per se, Soft Corrections add flexibility to ties and are excellent for training a horse to tie. Soft Corrections are 6” double bungee cords with a snap at one end and a ring at the other end.
For horses who tend to panic when they are restrained by a solid-feeling tie, they “give” to quell that panic while holding the horse firmly. They are especially helpful for schooling young horses who are still green enough to fight a tether.
The spring-back feature rewards a horse the way your hands would — easing up as the horse stops pulling.
The down side of Soft Corrections is that we feel they must be used with other safety cross-ties because they have no safety release features of their own. (Soft Corrections are also used as a rein addition to help protect the horse’s mouth from poor hands and to give green riders feedback on establishing feel. See October 2000.) $19.95/pair.
The Top Tack cross-tie is made of 1” flat nylon and is adjustable from 40” to 80”. The unique feature of this product is a 9 ??” loop of elastic that affords added flexibility. The flexible nylon is well suited for young horses or horses who panic when they lean on a solid-feeling cross-tie.
As in other typical cross-ties, the halter end has a standard snap and the wall end has a quick release.
Although the cross-tie works well when it is fully extended, the double-loop adjusting mechanism — the same type that is on helmets and surcingles — can be cumbersome to work with. When adjusted shorter to the point where the cross-tie forms a loop, the nylon strapping was difficult to keep from twisting. We’d like the manufacturer to add a keeper of some sort to solve this problem. $18 each.
The Topline cross-tie is made of 1” nylon with a standard halter snap and a standard quick-release snap for the wall mooring.
The special feature of this cross-tie is that it uses a hook-and-loop fastener for a quick-release at the halter snap. In fact, the halter snap itself is held on by looping the hook-and-loop fastener through it. This is an attractive feature since it means you can easily replace broken snaps simply by releasing the hook-and-loop fastener.
The panic hold is adjustable by using more or less of the hook-and-loop fastener coating for either a stronger hold or a quicker release, such as in training young horses.
Like the Top Tack cross-tie, the Topline uses the same double-loop adjusting mechanism, so it, too, is cumbersome to work with and gets snarled when adjusted to a shorter length. Again, we’d like to see the addition of a small keeper to solve this problem. $16 each.
Any of these cross-ties are acceptable for your horse, but our favorites are Turtle Snaps. These cross-ties are attractive and easy to use. We like the simple one-handed safety release mechanism and the panic-load level of the release mechanism.
Contact Your Local Tack Store Or: Turtle Snaps 919/388-8946; Equestrian International 800/347-0033; Soft Corrections 888/933-2545; Top Tack 800/419-1392; Topline 800/345-1136.