Question on Safety Knives and Emergency Equipment to Always Have Nearby

What kind of safety bolt cutters and emergency responder type knives do you keep for emergencies, aka horse gets hung up in rope or whatever. I saw a cowboy who always had a pocket sewn into his chaps, so he would always have a safety knife on him (guessing it was a first responder type of safety knife?). In an emergency every second counts and having the right equipment is essential. Thanks!

Honestly it’s pretty hard to manage to keep cutting gear plus cellphone plus barn and car keys all in English riding gear. However, I do try to minimize risks in general horsehandling. I see that a ranch environment could provide a lot of risks with rope, wire fencing, etc that we don’t get at a boarding barn. I’m interested to see responses for must have gear!

I’ve always packed a high quality two bladed pocket knife. One blade might be a bit duller because it was reserved for cutting bale string, lunch meat, etc. The other extremely sharp for cutting nuts, marking ears and banging tails or notching ear tags on cattle.

Knife was kept in a light leather scabbard as not to add bulk and a leather throng that attached to a belt loop. Scabbard could be in the pocket or hanging out if it’s being used consistently, like at a branding or processing cattle through a chute.

You don’t chance losing a pocket knife falling out of a coat pocket or jean pocket and if you’re wearing chaps you’re not constantly digging down to get to jean or chap pocket.

I’m not sure what the bolt cutters are for? Most dire situations we’ve been were solved by a good pocket knife or a pair of fence pliars.

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So bolt cutters. Always keep in the barn. I had a horse get the heel of his shoe stuck in a link of a chain that was holding a gate closed. He was such a champ, the chain was about Chest high and he held his foot up for who knows how long before we found him and cut him down.

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I saw a horse get caught in wire fencing on a trail ride. Had to ride to the nearest farm and get wire cutters. Definitely have wire cutters and a strong knife. I also saw a horse get a hind leg caught in their high line - a sharp knife really helped.

Another time a horse got a rope caught wrapped around it’s hind leg - the knife on hand was too dull but fortunately the mare stopped panicking enough to untie her. She did get some minor rope burn but no major injuries.

I had a mare come running in for supper and step in a feed bucket. She caught her hoof in it and we had to cut the bucket to get it off. She was completely fine.

I don’t think any of these accidents caused injuries. The worst accident I saw was a puppy get its leash wrapped around a horse’s leg- it was kicked in the head and killed instantly. Why I’m not a fan of dogs being at horse shows. The kids were just heartbroken and it was very upsetting to witness.

regarding the knives, we always carry lock blade knives…the blade is locked in place when opened and must be physically released to close

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I keep a Gerber multi-tool tied on my saddle. Knife, wire-cutter, pliers (pull a nail) all in one.

I carry a leatherman wave. It has two flip out blades, one serated that makes short work of any rope and has, in addition to a wire cutter. My husband carries a spyderco knife but it doesn’t have the wire cutter aspect.

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Re the multi-tools:
Yeah, I have a “Wave”, and also a beefy SOG tool. Neither will come close to cutting barbed wire, or the standard “smooth” wire that is fairly universal in this part of the world. Nor will they be of much help if you have to pull a shoe for some reason; trust me on this one.
Do try out your multi-tool at home to determine if it will perform as expected before you toss it in your saddle bag for emergency situations.
I was so disgusted after the SOG tool failed miserably at getting a partially-detached shoe off of a friends horse while out on the trail (we had a long walk back to the trucks as a result), that I got a used-but-still-serviceable nipper from my farrier, and cut the handles down to where it would fit into my cantle bag. It will cut a horseshoe nail. It will pull a shoe. It will cut fence wire as long as you do one strand at a time. Just sayin’ . . .


I’m not sure my aging hands could cut chain link or a horse shoe nail even with the right tool.

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I’ve cut plenty of barbed wire with my leatherman. One wire at a time but I’ve done it many many times, along with lots of other wire.

DH is a farrier and has used his leatherman to pull shoes in an emergency on pack trips as well. It didn’t work so well that he didn’t start carrying an old pair of nippers in the pack but he has used that leatherman in a pinch.

We’ve been packing these things for about 30 years now so we know pretty well what we can and can’t do with them and there’s a reason we still use them.

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I would get something with at least a 4 inch serrated blade that is about an inch thick. Not these tiny pocket knives though you can find a blade like this that folds. There are knife pouches made specifically for attaching to a western saddle. You could also pack a small pair of wire cutters if you thought that would be an issue (could fit in another pouch). Best place to keep a blade is on yourself when not in the saddle.


When trailriding, I’ve always kept both my pocket knife and Leatherman on me. I try to always remember to carry a hunting knife that’s sharp with me too. My preferred hunting knife has got a serrated portion near the hilt, a strap that snaps around the handle, and a belt loop and I like to attach it to my lower leg while riding. If I get thrown, fall, whatever, I don’t bruise my back or run the risk of the tether breaking and stabbing myself or my horse. I need to add a small set of nippers to the pack though.

For the barn, I really do need to add a knife at the cross ties up high where the adults can reach but the kids can’t. We’ve got two horses that are iffy on the cross ties We have scissors but they’re dull and cheaply made, not to mention tend to wander off.

At the barn, we always had (have) a fencing tool hanging on the wall. Easily visible and ready to grab. I only had to use it once, thankfully.


Hanging just inside the door of the feed room:

Bolt cutters (little ones)

Thanks for the reminder that I need to make sore all the boarders know where they are.

When I was doing a lot of trail riding, I carried my mini bolt cutters with me in my cantle bag. I tested them to make sure they would get through Barbwire. And my leatherman.

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I do that, too.

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Hunting gear; .

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I keep at least 2 utility knives in each reach (on front, and one in back) of both my horse trailers. I just have them velcro’ed to a wall or inside a manager storage to they can be grabbed easily in an emergency.

At home, I have a wire / bolt cutters in the garage. Before we had this house (and our horses at home) I kept one in my horse trailer. One time, where I used to board, I saw a boarder’s horse caught in the wire fence. There was nothing that I could do. I called the BO and ran up to their barn. They didn’t want to cut the wire so they wouldn’t have to fix fence. :rage: :rage: So I helplessly watched another boarder’s horse slice it’s leg to pieces. That’s when I went and bought my own wire cutters and put it in my trailer. I would have cut that fence in a heartbeat to save that horse from injury.

I purposefully have built my entire place at home with the thinner type of electric fence that will BREAK if a horse gets caught in it. I’m pretty much out in the middle of nowhere so I’d rather have a loose horse than a hurt one. My perimeter fence is smooth double-stranded wire but the rest is “breakable”.

I keep a Leatherman super tool on my belt when I’m
Working .