12-11-2012, 06:42 PM
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My dad and I took 22 Boy Scouts on a 100 miler - pioneer style - through the White Mountains of Arizona the year after I graduated high school (that was a while back). We had 22 Scouts, five adults (including my dad and me), and 32 horses...and one little donkey about the size of a Great Dane. Crossbuck pack saddles, diamond hitches, home made jerky and granola, the whole nine yards. The first night out my dad and I hobbled two of our horses (we had three of our own stock on the trip). The next morning the two hobbled horses were gone! By the tracks it was easy to see they had galloped off, leaving the other 30 horses, and headed for where they thought home must be. I got on the one horse we had left of our own stock and tracked them back nearly five miles. I found them standing at the fence at highway 260 somewhere near Vernal, Arizona. Both had bloody hocks, but no other injuries. They finished the trip with us and healed up fine with no lasting scars or anything.
I still train my horses for hobbles, and I use them like Painted Horse does, for grazing and lunch stops. At night I tie them to a tree. Even while they are grazing I always leave a loooong lead rope attached to the halter and let it drag on the ground. Mine is about 25 feet long or so. I have been saved more than once by being able to grab the end of a long lead while the horse thinks he's still far enough ahead of me! They tend to step on the lead rope when they start to head off, so it slows them down just enough. So far it hasn't happened often enough for them to learn to hold their head to the side to clear the lead. Also, I always make sure at least one horse is tied or I'm holding the lead rope while I snooze at lunchtime. If the others take off, the one tied will let me know about it and I'll have a mount to go get the others. On foot chasing horses in the mountains, wearing cowboy boots, is not fun.
I have used leather and nylon hobbles. I currently use the nylon ones. They're cheaper and require less care (no oiling, just water). After the night described above, I don't leave hobbles on long enough to cause any chafing anymore.