High lining for camping

I have not high lined my horse yet, but I bought the supplies and I plan to try it this year. My Q is for those who do it and have gone camping with others who do it. Have you ever had or seen a horse who freaked out being tied to a high line? My guy is amazing but if he is tied in a trailer, he panics. So I don’t tie him in a trailer. He loads just fine.

I cross-tie him with blocker tie rings. He is usually good for the cross-tying. I don’t have a good place to practice high lining, but I am going to try to find one, now that spring is around the corner.

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I’ve both done it, and camped with others doing it (both when I was doing so, or I was not).

None of my horses ever freaked out, even though this is not something I’d practiced at home - perhaps I should have, but none of my horses have ever been the type to particularly freak out, although sensitive souls.

I don’t cross-tie at home, and never did when boarding, either (it’s not really a thing here, unless the fashion has changed since my long-ago boarding days). I can’t speak about the previous experience or training of any of the other horses I’ve seen tied to a high line.

There’s what I could describe as quite a bit of freedom in a high-line - horses can move around, stretch their necks out, etc., so it’s not terribly restrictive, which may well cut down on possible freaking out.

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I don’t high line until I know my horses are rock solid at tying and hobbling.
I would practice at home. It takes some tweaking to figure out what works best for your herd. If you have tall horses you can’t ever get the line high enough so you might have to go with a picket (chest height) option. Better to fiddle with it on a Saturday afternoon/night in the back yard first.


all of our horses did better on a high line as it gave them the freedom to turn 360 degrees to see also they could lie down if wanted

As a reminder, if using trees to run the high line it best to wrap a protective towel of something similar to protect the tree’s bark


I’ve done it with my ottb, no practice beforehand but he’s never had a problem being tied. My friend’s horse had also never done it and was fine. It was a little nerve-wracking for me, I think I got up a few times the first night to check on them, but the horses were oblivious :rofl:

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There is a major downside to high lining. We tried doing something similar with a new dog that kept digging out and was difficult to catch. He bolted towards the house and snapped the line. The recoil on the line hit me in the face and left a big bruise. This was a wire line and not a rope. I don’t recall what broke… The snap maybe?

At any rate, a horse can bolt on the line, get tangled, or otherwise hurt themselves. I mush prefer electric fencing if you train them at home to stay contained. I have a friend with a mule that needs panel fencing and electric to keep him in. He bull dozes the panel fencing.

A highlined horse can’t bolt. They are TIED to a swiveling piece of hard ware that is on the highline or their lead rope has a swivel and the lead rope itself is threaded through a loop in the highline… What are describing is a dog on a zipline, as it were.

I’ve done it many times but I never sleep well while they are highline. They can reach up to scratch an ear and hook a foot in the line.

Scout’s first camping trip on a highline. You can see that by lying down he’s taken all the slack out of the line.



I knew a horse that choked to death highlined in a place where the humans were out of earshot over night. Very sad.

I have seen 2 accidents. One horse hooked a hind leg and had to be cut free. Lucky it occurred during the day and not at night. Another time someones horse got tangled and badly injured. They left right afterwards so I don’t know the outcome. There’s definitely a degree of danger in high lining that seems to be absent with electric but that is assuming the horse respects electric.

I have seen a couple ugly wrecks on high lines and/or hi ties, one of which resulted in a dead horse (choked itself). I don’t think there is any containment system that some horse hasn’t had an issue with. Because horses. :woman_shrugging:

@Nezzy how does your horse behave when single tied in places other than the trailer? when you say he is usually good for cross tying, what behavior are you seeing when he’s not good?

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Question for highliners: do you use a breakaway halter or not? I feel uneasy about having my guy in something that wouldn’t break away, but I also feel uneasy about him breaking away and me not able to catch him in an unsecured, unfamiliar environment!

no never did, used leather halters that could be cut off if needed, our horses were used to being highlined we found they did much better than tied to the trailer also each was taught to ground tie

We rode competitive trail, there were some places that did not allow highlines due to damages to the trees

Xanthoria-Very sad. I am not talking about getting tangled. I think that has a lot to do with how the horse is hooked up( the way the human sets up the highline). I am talking about a horse freaking out bc he cannot get away. My guy is fine tied to the side of the trailer, with a Blocker tie ring, however, I am never far away. I am probably going to be ok, but I am very nervous.

I do not use breakaway halters bc I had a horse about 20 yrs ago, and he learned to snap his head out of the breakaway halter while he was cross-tied, ran out of the barn, and he kept doing it every time I changed the breakaway parts. Then I had to retrain him to stand while tied. it was a whole nightmare.

Phantom- when he is tied in a trailer, he panics, and I can’t get him unhooked fast enough. The breakaway ties have failed on me 2x, to where they don’t open, they just break. He is amazing to load, he rides great, he just panics when he feels his head is tied. ONLY does it in the trailer, but I don’t know what he would do highlined. I know I need to practice with him somewhere. But even practice doesn’t ensure he won’t feel trapped on a high line.

I bought the supplies to use in the way that this person teaches to high line. I really like this method, I just need to find a place to practice.

What type are you using?

I’ve had a lot of success with the velcro trailer ties - they do come undone in a situation.

I don’t know the details on the choked to death horse I knew, but it’s very possible he panicked, tried to run, and got entangled.

Personally I’ve highlined multiple horses at camp for a week or so with no issues (except rubs - I recommend sheepskin halter fuzzies). One spooked and ran but the breakaway string loop I put under the chin connecting halter to tie rope broke and all was well. You never can tell what they’ll do!


I am sure if you started a thread asking if temporary electric fencing is dangerous there would be some posts with horror stories regarding that too.
Horses find ways to hurt themselves on everything/anything.

You (general) just have to pick whatever system works best for your horse. (And is allowed by the facility where you are staying, clearly. Darn those rules.)


I don’t use breakaway equipment.


DH and I highline frequently. We’ve seen some near-disasters that thankfully didn’t turn into actual disasters. In every case, it was because the line wasn’t high enough, had been allowed to sag over time without subsequent tightening, or something else that occurred because the human(s) didn’t correctly install/maintain the line, or left their horse’s tie line too long, allowing them to easily get tangled in it.

@Nezzy posted a good video above. The line is too low but the speaker acknowledges this. Also, I don’t like how the line is connected to the trailer, and the speaker acknowledges this too. The rope ratchets look wonderfully simple to use but, plastic… To secure our line we use a double-gear hand cable puller. More complicated than the rope ratchets in the video, but not terribly so.


@Nezzy sorry, I didn’t go back to read the question:

No. And we’ve highlined with dozens, and sometimes maybe 100+ horses at times, over the last 20 years or so. Yes, some get nervous and have a hard time settling. After some time they usually do. Mostly though once they see the hay - and note the other horses eating hay - they get busy eating theirs.

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Only once, and he was insane in other ways. He was mad, not scared, just mad as hell.

Your horse who doesn’t ‘hard tie’ aka straight tie well will most likely be fine tied overhead and on a swivel. I often think people hard tie too low and the horse panics. Once they are scared of being tied low you’re in a bind

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