I have a lot of pet peeves when it comes to trail riding, packing, and just caring for your stock. I know you’re shocked!!! I know it’s hard to believe that I let anything get under my skin as laid back and easy going as I am, but it’s true. I’m going to share the one right at the top of my list. It’s a junkie old lead rope… No really, it doesn’t matter if it’s too short, old and stiff, rusty snap broke, and tied back together…Did I mention too short!!! I hate a short lead rope. I don’t get it…the cheapest piece of tack you can buy and yet we pull them out of trash cans at the trailhead, pick them up for a dollar at a yard sale, or just keep them way, way, way too long. This lead rope issue reared its ugly head just the other day. As many of you know my good friend and long-time packing partner Bud passed away earlier this year. We inherited his saddle horse, Smokey. When we went to pick him up, Bud’s son met me at the ranch and after chatting about his dad for a bit. He said “Let me get his halter and lead rope, Dad would want you to have it too.” He brought out an old stiff halter that really didn’t fit and this short piece of crap lead rope. I almost got choked up and it almost made me cry because I gave Bud so much crap over the miles about his lead rope selection. He was all proud of every whiz bang deal he found and would always let me know that bargain price. It was only a buck at this yard sale or I got 2 for a dollar at the thrift store. Who cares they’re junk!!!
A good lead rope needs to be 12’ long, this allows you to have plenty of rope to tie your stock together in your string. 12’ allows you plenty of length to tie your animal up on the trail while you adjust a load, have lunch, snap a picture, or take that much needed biological break. 12’ is perfect for securing those horses and mules to a proper height highline on uneven ground. We all have our favorite snap, and that’s a topic for another day. So, until then you can debate that by the fire with your packing partner while having an adult beverage! Just remember most lead ropes are advertised as 10’ then the process in the bulk assembly line is to fold the ends over to attach the snap making that lead rope only 9’ something which isn’t enough to tie that string together…
See you on the trail.
AndyPS- I have been swapping out all my bargain basement garage sale deal of a lifetime lead ropes as I have been spring cleaning over the last few weeks. I suggest you start that process too before you are half way down the trail cussing that you should have done it last year. We have the supplies if you want to build your own (Rope, Hardware)or we sell 12’ leads that we make in store on our website. You can check them out here.