How to Hobble a Horse

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"You can find your own way home. It's dinnertime."
"You can find your own way home. It's dinnertime." (Image: a-poselenov/iStock/Getty Images)

Horse hobbles are an invaluable accessory when riding in remote areas with nothing to tie a lead rope on. Hobbles allow your horse to move, but slowly, so he doesn't run off into the wild blue yonder without you. Four types of hobbles, fitted correctly on your horse's legs, just below the knees on the front, and below the hock on the rear allow him some freedom to graze while you stop for a rest.

Desensitizing Your Horse

It is important to desensitize a new or young horse before putting hobbles on him to keep him calm and out of danger. Your horse may look at hobbles as a restraint method and may balk at first. Clip a lead rope to his halter and wrap the free end around a stable object a few times so he can escape without injury. Coil up a cotton lead rope and rub it on your horse's back, sides and legs to desensitize him to touch.

Hobble Training

Folding a cotton rope in half and placing the center around each foot near the pastern, trains your horse to the feel of something on his legs. The pastern is the area just above the hoof and below the fetlock. Pull the rope slightly forward on the leg and upward. Your horse will raise his leg when you do this. Practice this on all four feet until your equine friend accepts the action quietly.

Securing Hobbles

Figure 8 hobbles attach by wrapping the leather strap clockwise around your horse's right front leg and inserting the tip through the first metal ring. Insert the tip of the hobble strap through the second metal ring, behind the left front leg and buckle the strap into the buckle. Double hobbles attach onto both front legs of your horse loosely with both chain ends clipped onto the metal loops on the hobbles. If you are using three-way hobbles, connect the front two hobbles, place the third hobble on one rear leg and connect the longer chain between the front and rear hobbles. Picket hobbles give your horse the most freedom. One hobble attaches to a front leg with a hobble lead attaching onto the metal hobble ring. The opposite end of the hobble lead attaches to a hobble stake that is pounded into the ground with a rubber mallet until the top is flush with the ground.

Hobbling Considerations

Put hobbles on a young horse or an older horse for the first time at the longest length between them; slowly tighten them one buckle hole at a time to get your horse used to them. Hobble your horse for the first few times in a controlled environment where he is comfortable, such as a round pen, a stall or a wash rack. It helps to put his mind at ease with something new. If your horse becomes alarmed at the idea of restraining his feet to the point of injury or rearing upward, remove the hobbles when it is safe to do so and provide more training.

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