I began using a get-down rope purely for practical reasons. But I think it looks kinda cool, too.
We’ve all heard it before: “Don’t tie up your horse with the bridle on!”
Most of us heed that sound, sensible advice. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of wrecks with horses tied up by their reins, from horses pulling back and banging up their mouths to chewed up leather and broken tack. To be fair, I’ve also seen plenty of riders get away with doing it accident free, time and time again.
I step on and off my horse a lot in a given day. Turning back for my husband when he works his horses on cattle means that I am constantly mounting, dismounting and tying up or leading a using horse between every work. Riding with a halter under my bridle just isn’t my style. I was always in a predicament of whether I should take the time and halter him every time or if I should just wrap my reins up and cross my fingers that he didn’t get loose. Both were time-consuming options. I didn’t know what was best.
That is, until I remembered a glorious little contraption called the get-down rope.
The get-down rope doesn’t have to be fancy. It is generally a function-over-form situation, but some like to make a statement with this piece of tack, as it can be both handy and attractive. Some people prefer to use a traditional horsehair mecate or something flashy like purple parachute cord. However, a simple braided rope of correct length—12 to 16 feet—will do.
I try not to be distracted by the fashionable aspect of the get-down rope and enjoy it purely for function’s sake. After all, this is a job I’m doing, and I can’t waste time on looking good.
Anyway, using a get-down rope offers many things to the rider. Whether we have leather split reins or hand-braided rawhide romal reins, our tack is better cared for and preserved when we don’t have to use it to tie or lead horses. There is a lot of security in having the get-down rope handy, because every time we step off (whether it’s on the trail, doctoring cattle or just dropping our iPhone in the dirt), we have direction and contact with our horses. This means heightened security and safety for us, and a little insurance that he’ll be close by.
Some feel it’s incredibly controversial and dangerous to tie a horse up by the get-down rope. I personally believe that if you have a horse that’s been trained to respond intelligently to that sort of pressure, and you tie your knots properly, you will be just fine. I’m not trying to persuade anyone to try it; I just know what works on my own horses. Just use common sense.
The get-down rope must always be tied around the horse’s neck with a knot that doesn’t slip. The most common and simplest is the bowline knot. It’s a common, useful knot that every horseman should know, and under no circumstance should it be confused with a knot that can move or slip its position. It needs to be tied around the throatlatch with plenty of breathing room for your good ol’ gelding. The tail and remainder of the rope is run through a little noseband or bosalito and half-hitched it to the saddle horn, coiled and tied to the saddle strings or tucked under the belt (not tied). This way, it’s handy to grab and go at any point when mounting, leading or dismounting your animal.
My get-down rope has helped me immensely with my daily tasks. I no longer waste time with unnecessary halters, halfway wrapped-up reins or busted tack. I love knowing that if I need to lead, hold or even tie up my bridled horse mid-ride (gasp!), I can do so without incident.
And yes, even I must admit that it looks kinda cool, too.