This six-horse hitching post eliminates time spent catching, saddling and tying horses individually before training sessions, and teaches the horses patience.

At any time, trainer Dan James’ Kentucky facility can have between 10 and two dozen horses that need to be worked and/or ridden. James has spent nearly four decades horseback, and today specializes in freestyle reining and liberty training, which involves working with a horse on the ground instead of on its back.

Each day, he brings up six horses as a group, ties each one to his sturdy, self-designed hitching post, and begins an assembly-line-style grooming and saddling. By tackling the chore in groups, he hits two goals: eliminating time between rides and teaching each horse patience.

Dan James ties each horse to a heavy link of chain, at least 2 to 3 millimeters thick, with its lead rope. The chain is secured to the tie post by a heavy bolt. Most of the horses wear rope halters, and this option eliminates the need to remove the lead, or to wrap it around the horse’s neck. The hitching post is more than 1 foot wide, so tying the horse’s lead rope around it would not leave much length left for the horse to move.
The length of the horse’s tie depends on its size and height, James says. He typically will leave about 18 inches of lead rope. Photo by Kate Bradley Byars

To create his six-horse hitching post, James first decided on a location that offered the horses shade. Then, he and some friends set about making it sturdy and unmovable.

“It is convenient for me to have them close to the arena,” James says. “I can get into a rhythm riding one horse, then the next. It is also a great way to teach a busy horse to stand. However, I would never tie a young horse that hadn’t been tied to this [six-horse] post. It is for older horses that know how to stand.

“For a young horse I’m starting, I have another tie in our round pen that is specifically created to allow me to let loose the horse if it gets into trouble. Once the horse understands not to set back or knows that setting back is not a way to escape, I will tie it on this post.”

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of Western Horseman.

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