You don't have to fall off a horse to get hurt. A girl on the University of South Carolina Equestrian Team (pictured jumping grey horse) is in critical condition after the horse she was grooming spooked, pulling loose the rail he was tied to. The rail hit Victoria Middleton in the face and knocked her to the ground, where she hit her head on concrete. You can read the story here. She is now able to track visitors with her eyes and they may take her breathing tube out tomorrow. So sad and scary!
This could have been my daughter, Lily. I can't remember to tell her everything and I certainly don't know everything to tell her. A couple of years ago she tied her horse to a fence board, not a fence post. He spooked, the board came flying and hit Lily in the face. It hurt, her lips bled and she received some cuts. But she was okay. And did learn not to do that again.
There are so many ways to look at how to tie your horse. Generally, make sure if they spook that they can get loose -- we use breakaway halters in general and little loops of hay twine that will break when we tie them to the trailer. I wish we had cross ties at home but we don't -- so we tie the horse to a fence post, not a rail, so that if they decide to "leave" unexpectedly, they will not take the fence with them. I keep a supply of halter headstalls. If somebody makes this a habit, well, they get the unbreakable halter and the unbendable tree. But I haven't had to do that with any recent horses.
And then there's the magnificent Tree of Shame. It's not ours. It's a giant oak where a friend ties her horses when they need some thinking time. And no horse is pulling it down. I don't know what they're thinking about but I've seen them there, standing quietly, I assume repenting their current transgressions. But I think the Tree of Shame is a training tool, not a tying issue. Just couldn't resist mentioning it.
Then there are the knots you use to tie your horse. Use a quick release knot, though no knot is quick enough for an event like what happened to Victoria Middleton. Lily uses a quick release she learned in 4-H and Pony Club. I use the one my father taught me -- a bowline that's modified on the last step so that you loop the rope back into the hole, leaving the end loose for a quick pull. I like it because I can remember "the rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree, and back into the hole again." Instructions are here, though you need to modify the last step to make it a quick release.
Keep Victoria Middleton in your prayers. She could be any of us -- or our kids. There's a CaringBridge site you can access from the newspaper story.