Tie on? Tie off? Tie what? Explaining Western tie downs
Ever heard a Western rider refer to a “tie down”? It’s one of those accessory pieces that might be a little hard to identify for those of us who ride English.
Tie downs consist of a noseband and cheekpieces which fit around the ears. Clipped to the noseband is a piece of leather (or beta biothane) which connects to the girth. Tie downs limit how far back a horse can move his head, which is useful for those who might be prone to rearing or simply reaching his head back, putting the rider at risk for a broken nose.
The tie down is similar to the martingale in English riding, except that it attaches directly to the noseband without the support of a neckstrap. When adjusted appropriately, the tiedown won’t put any pressure on the horse until he raises his head above the disred level.
Ropers and barrel racers are especially fond of tie downs, since those speed events usually require the horse to stop or turn suddenly, which is more likely to result in the horse’s front end shifting up and back. Some riders also say that they feel it gives the horse something to brace against for balance.
At our shop, we sell a tie down strap with or without the noseband cavesson. The strap has a clip for easy on and off and is available in any of our standard 12 colors, with options to include an overlay color or rhinestones. As with all beta tack, the tie down strap is waterproof and crack-proof and just needs a trip through the washer to come clean–a real plus with this piece, which is likely to encounter a lot of dirt.