When a breakaway horse roots his nose in his stop, he lifts his head and flattens out his back. That will bring his hips and hind end up out of the ground, causing him to dribble forward in the stop. In turn, the run takes longer to finish and sacrifices costly tenths of a second—and that time is often the difference between a paycheck and a discouraging ride home.
If I know the horse has the fundamentals of a stop down, but he’s losing it in the run when I add speed, I consider adjusting the tie-down length to keep his nose down and keep him more level-headed where he can’t root out.
I look at the horse’s headset and decide how I want to adjust it. Some horses work better by pushing into a tie-down. Some horses, if you have the tie-down too long, they’ll keep lifting their head trying to find it. It’s different with every horse.
If a horse is chargy, I will tighten the tie-down down a lot. A lot of people will go straight to the bit and over-bit them. I prefer to adjust the noseband—maybe trying a harder noseband or a tighter tie-down—as much as I adjust the bit.
I start with a single-rope noseband. If I need something lighter, I will go to a double-rope nose band or even a leather one. If I need something harder, I can take the leather off the single-rope noseband and maybe go to rawhide. I play with the tie-down on different horses until I get the feel of them staying down in the stop and finishing the run fast. BRJ