09-27-2014, 04:05 AM
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When I first started riding and packing 47 years ago I hobbled my horses with leather cowboy hobbles. And I left my horses/mules out all night with them on. I soon discovered that the leather got wet from dew and then chaffed the horses legs and made them sore.
One day as I was driving to a trail head I noticed a sheep herder off to the left of the road with a band of sheep, some dogs and a couple of horses. I stopped and had a little talk with him. As I was talking I noticed that he had a small chain around his horse's neck. I asked him what it was for and he said it was his hobble.
I was captivated by those hobbles and asked all about them. He said they were easier on the horse than any other kind of hobble and with them being around the neck they were always available quickly. They were made from a piece of halter chain, 32 links with a snap on each end.
I invested in some halter chain of my own and some snaps. Cheap also. I used them for years. If a horse decides to run they will bite. But I never had a horse or mule get hurt using them.
Then about 15 years ago I saw an advertisement in "Mules and More" magazine for Mormon Hobbles. I believe they were being sold out of Las Cruces, NM by Max Harsha.
They come in three sizes. Small, medium and large. I purchased a small for a mule and a medium pair for my saddle horse. They worked just as well or better than the chain hobble. I carried them with me at all times either in a horn bag or saddle bag. I like them because they don't rub the hair off the horse and they allow the area to "breathe". And you don't have to worry about someone taking them off your horse and taking the horse. :o)
The best way to train a horse to hobbles, in my opinion, is to start with a halter chain about 48 inches long and put a snap on each end using a quick link. Lay the chain across the front of the feet and bring the end around the fetlock and snap the chain back to itself with slack in the loop so the foot will not slip out of the loop. When the horse has learned to walk with that length of chain shorten up the chain over a period of time. This way the horse will learn to walk and not hop with the hobbles like they will do it you start them out with conventional hobbles.
I have also learned that a horse will get all they need to eat in two hours of grazing in the morning and two hours in the evening. If you leave them hobbled out all night, you may be inviting trouble. Bring them in after two hours of grazing and put them on a high line. Most of the time they are a whole lot easier to find after two hours than after being out all night.