View Full Version : Floating, to tie or not to tie?

28-04-06, 04:51 AM
Hi all,

A friend had a horrific floating experinece at the weekend, which has let me to the question of to tie or not to tie. I'm going to post what happened (with her permission).

First of all the first time they floated their horse they didn't tie him, he tried to turn around and got his head/neck wedged up against the float wall. When they pulled over to fix him he was having trouble breathing. I'm not sure how long ago this was.

They floated him again at the weekend, in a new float. It was a single with no roof. They tied him from the top and the bottom so he could not turn around. They didn't tie him with twine. He tried to climb out the float, because he was tied when he couldn't successfully go up, he fell down in a mangled heap & then fought & fought. They pulled over and a passerby helped them to try and make him more comfortable. One of his legs had gone through the float and was badly cut.

This happened not very far from home, they drove straight to the vet and had him put down. Then they had to drive him to the abattoir.

My friend is feeling very guilty, she was not happy about having a single open float and is beating herself up about it. Her words

"The problem is that damn sign, open top float. They look dangerous, I've always suspected they were dangerous, and the only time I've ever used one I ended up having to drive the horse to the abattoir!"

The horse was out of their mare and she is very upset, she said she remembers feeling him when we would take the mare for some exercise.

She did say to me that she does not think the issue is to tie or not to tie, but rather open to floats.

But, it has let me to ask whether it is better to tie or not?

Suzie Q
28-04-06, 04:58 AM
I think it is an issue of an open top float. I have read quite a few times that they are dangerous.

As with tieing - on the horseproblems site he tell how he ties a horse so as they can not go up.

If you tie to twine it can break if you are in an accident where the float rolls. If it goes down an embankment or something, do you really want your horse to be unable to get up because he is tied?

28-04-06, 05:32 AM
Suzie Q agree re open top float. I don't think them for a number of reasons. Horse trying to get out, going under low tree branches, stuff like dust or stones etc maybe flying into float and getting into horses eyes.

But, after she said they didn't tie in the first float and he tried to turn around so then they tied him I'm wondering what people do generally do they tie or not?

28-04-06, 05:35 AM
This horse obviously had floating issues anyway and then unfortunately she made a bad decision and put him in an open top single float. Even if he wasn't tied he still would have tried to jump out and would have probably damaged himself irripairibly anyway so I don't think it's an issue about tieing - it was a floating issue.

The main thing is I believe is that you should never just tie to the float - always used twine to tie to so that if there is an accident or something happens the horse will hopefully be able to brake this if needed - or the driver/owner can cut it easily if needed.

I would never float anywhere in an open top, there are too many things that may set a horse off.

28-04-06, 05:39 AM
Definetly a NO NO to the open topped float. Have never liked the look of them. Never even looked in one, let alone put a horse in one.

Re. tying up. ALWAYS and always to hayband. By not tying the up you run the risk of them trying to turn around then getting there head behind the centre pole- if you hit the brakes at this time poor old horseys neck goes crack.

I always tie them up higher rather than lower, but so they can get there head down far enough. And always short enough so they can't get there head behind to pole. My fella would try and turn around even when tied up so it is super important to tie him short enough.

Suzie Q
28-04-06, 05:44 AM
I agree with Chezvic that it sounds like this horse had more issues than just being tied in the float.

It is better to tie, to stop a horse turning around, or if you have a horse that attacks the horse next to it, it needs to be tied, so as it cannot bite. If you have a head divider, then you tie so as horsy cannot get his head back and the wrong side of it.

It does not have to be tied tight (except in the biting the horse next to it scenario). Just tight enough to stop it putting it's head where it is not wanted and so as it can not get it's leg caught.

28-04-06, 06:55 AM
I agree with Chezvic re the open top float and the horse having obvious floating issues. I think having them like that is inviting them to jump out if they are bit claustrophobic.

But, I'm a believer in tying solid if you tie up at all. Short answer would be - use an angle load float and you'll never have to tie again, or tie solid and have a bloody sharp knife in your car to cut either rope or halter to free the horse.

Tieing long does nothing for the horse - might as well leave 'em loose, but you can't do that in a straight loader.....

guess it all comes down to making damn sure the ground work and preparation is done to train the horse before you put the animal on a float in the first place :( Very sorry to hear of your friends loss :'(

"Lord, give me chastity and continence; but not yet". St. Augustine

28-04-06, 07:37 AM
From the information supplied it sounds like the horse was not going to float well anyway.

Open top floats are not the best, but they should not be condemed either as they do have their uses. Perhaps the use of a single float with no room to spread legs may have contributed in part to the situation. Only the horse could tell you. My sympathies to the lost horse owners.

Everyone mentions problems with tying up.... you should all go and have a look at a neat solution/invention that does away with pulling back frights and baling twine.... try the links through www.zilco.com.au - Blocker Tie Ring.

Hope this helps.


28-04-06, 08:06 AM
Can I ask what sort of condition the float was in? You said the horse put it's leg through the float. Was it rusted and in poor condition? Maybe THAT should be the issue?

28-04-06, 08:18 AM
gg - can't comment on the condition of the float. didn't think to ask that. I'm assuming that the leg went through the front i.e. my float is lined with wood on the sides but not at the very front. I'm assuming that a horses leg, that is thrashing around would be through metal. Otherwise why have kick boards in stables etc.

28-04-06, 12:49 PM
>But, I'm a believer in tying solid if you tie up at all.

Moi aussi. Had a near miss with a float once. Horse fell down onto his hind end but because he was tied solid he didn't manage to hit his head or roll under the centre divider. Untied horse and he got straight up none the worse. Basically, wouldn't tie to twine. But that's my horses, all of which are great floaters. I agree with others here. I think it had something to do with the horse itself.

As for open topped floats, esp. singles. I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole.

28-04-06, 01:15 PM
Have a friend was transporting a Clydie in a float for work (so not his truck or float). Going down a hill, car did a U turn right in front of him. He slammed on brakes, track/float jack knifed and rolled.
The float already had twine in it and for some reason he looped the lead through the twine which he never normally does. Well, the clydie hit the roof when the float rolled. Thank goodness it had a fibreglass roof because that popped off, pony popped out. When he regained consciousness from writing off the truck he found the clydie happily grazing by the roadside. Lucky that day he used twine.

No regrets for your friend. They did the best they could in each moment. They never meant for what did happen to have happened.

I would use Tranquil paste or similar the first few times getting them out. And take it very very slowly. Corners and all. What is it with people that drive floats around like they are trying to get their horse to play that old game of 'corners!' we used to play as kids?

28-04-06, 03:22 PM
someone mentioned about using a head devider if you leave the horse untied, my friend has a head devider and stallion devider and her 16hh horse managed to get his head on the otherside of that when he was trying to turn around after she untied him and walked to undo the ramp... i always tie, and to twine as the float starts to sway when they start to play games!

sorry to hear about your friends horse.


29-04-06, 12:17 AM
Are we talking half roof's or are there floats out there with no roof??? If the half roof's one of the trotting trainers here has one and i have floated several horses in it no problem. Even my 2y.o. The only thing i would be worried about is the amount of noise if you are travveling down a freeway or main road. I always tie in the float actually thought the other day about the hayband thing. I have a 3 horse angle and don't really need to tie as the headf dividers keep thew pretty much locked away. Hmmm Might put hayband in the to tie to just incase . But i would always tie up.

29-04-06, 12:34 AM
My rule of thumb when tying is to tie such a length that the horse can't get the height to get over the chest rail (or think they can). It still gives them a fair bit of head movement, and at the same time doesn't leave the rope loose enough to step over it. Because I have a big horse in a standard float, it also allows him to eat from a haynet tied on the opposite side to give him more room. This may not have an effect in practise, but my decision is based on seeing 2 horses going over the chest bar and wanting to prevent that. As I haven't seen other forms of floating accidents, I haven't really been influenced in the way I tie up. I always tie to twine in the float and I wouldn't own a float where everything (inc chest bars) couldn't come out.


www.freewebs.com/werdun (Still under construction)

29-04-06, 12:49 AM
And just to throw a different view into the mix :)

I don't tie horses most of the time that I float them. Why? Because a friend tied their horse and was then hit by another driver, the car/float flipped over and the horse died, choked to death, was hanging by it's leadrope - tied solid.

So now, I don't usually tie (still carry a very sharp knife just in case) but I make sure the horses are VERY good floaters, I do teach them to tie (also ground tie) but I don't tie them in floats if there is a divider in to stop them turning around.

If there is no divider, I tie them to twine but try to have them so well trained to tie that they don't break the twine ie they don't know it can break - tieing to twine is the last tieing that I teach, I teach them to tie solid first.

*If* I tie, I always tie/undo the rope at the front of the float before doing up/undoing the back of the float in case horse panics and rushes off so horse doesn't whack head on top of float and/or get stuck.

I'm floating my rescue boy tomorrow and Monday (yep, he's the one that was in big float loading accident about a 1.5 years ago but is now trotting onto float :) )and I'm not tieing him in nor will he have a halter on during the trip. He doesn't back off (90% of the time) until I ask him to and he is quite happy remaining in there to eat his dinner, untied with back door down.

Will be interesting to see how he goes. There is no head divider but he will be by himself and there isn't room for him to turn around in the float.

29-04-06, 01:28 AM
I had commented earlier about not tying up at all, or tying solid. My comment about not tying up was because I have an angle float. The dividers are excellent and the horse would never be able to turn around or bite another horse or get its head anywhere near it. They aren't padded - nor do I have those skirt thingies - but that's another debate ;)

"Lord, give me chastity and continence; but not yet". St. Augustine

Suzie Q
29-04-06, 01:30 AM
I didn't mean that you should tie a horse long, what I meant was it didn't have to be so tight that horsey couldn't move his head.

As stated above, you can only cut a rope or halter if you are conscious and not dead or worse after the accident!!!

29-04-06, 02:19 AM
Well, i always tie to baling twine. And swear by it.
Single floats - big no no, open top floats - big no no.
I know a girl that had a horrible floating experience and a few horses had to be put down. A worst nightmare i tell you.

29-04-06, 02:28 AM
Hi everyone,
I feel for you friend for having to go through such an horrendous experience and the lost of her horse, but I use an open topped float over an enclosed one (and am looking at purchasing such)for the simple reason that my mare works herself up to such a state when faced with the prospect of entering an enclosed float, I can't bear to see her so stressed. I've never had any problems, I always tie her to twine and let her munch a hay net. She arrives relaxed and happy.

29-04-06, 03:39 AM
i agree, you can only cut a rope if you are conscious, even if you are conscious it takes quite a bit to cut through a leadrope and really not a safe option with a struggling horse in a confined space. Also with cutting you end up with a horse with six inches of leadrope, rather if the twine breaks you still have a full lenth lead to control a horse on the side of what may be a busy road in the event of an accident (even if it is a minor one like a blowout and you have to unload to do repairs).

29-04-06, 04:21 AM
Savvy, isnt floating without a headcollar quite a dangerous thing to do? What would you do if something bad did happen on a main road and you needed to unload in a hurry with a paniced horse?? Maybe Im just seeing that from my point of view, if my boy was in panic mode, last thing I would be wanting to do is climb in with him thrashing around and try and put a headcollar on him so I could get him off!


29-04-06, 05:37 AM
>Savvy, isnt floating without a headcollar quite a dangerous
>thing to do? What would you do if something bad did happen
>on a main road and you needed to unload in a hurry with a
>paniced horse?? Maybe Im just seeing that from my point of
>view, if my boy was in panic mode, last thing I would be
>wanting to do is climb in with him thrashing around and try
>and put a headcollar on him so I could get him off!

Good point. Well, I always have 2-3 halters stashed, different places in the car and one tied up in the empty spot in the float.

You've really made me think quite hard about this (an interesting concept).

Will post more later, finally can go to lunch!