Horsey Therapist

Sunday, April 27, 2008


It is paradoxical that I have such a clear preference for what rope I use for lead ropes and reins when I spend so much time promoting engaging a horse's mind and essentially finding tack choice irrelevant.

That said, I do prefer treeline rope which I get in White River Junction, VT at the same shop where we buy kevlar chaps, chainsaw sharpening tools, and brightly colored hard hats to protect the noggens when felling trees.

Why I like it is the important thing because I think each person will have his or her own preference. In fact my preference has evolved over the years.

I like this rope because it communicates what I do and pretty much nothing more. It is stiff compared to most lead lines. One can almost push it!

A fun and educational experiment: hold one end of 2-3 different leadlines and have 2-3 people hold the other ends, adjust so there is the same amount of loop in each rope, then move your wrist back and forth once, and WATCH... which lead rope stops moving first? Which lead rope keeps moving the longest?

What this tells me is that some ropes keep 'talking' to the horse after my body has stopped saying something. I want clarity, not confusion. If I move my hand to the right, I want my horse to feel that. With a softer rope, I move my hand to the right and initiate a swing, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. What does that feel like to the horse? Instead of a message indicating 'right', he gets a message of right, left, right, left, right, left...

I do not rely solely on the feel of a lead rope but at times it is important and part of how I communicate with a horse.


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