I recently searched for a review on the Blocker Tie Ring. All of my results were from companies who are selling them. Funny thing, all of the attributes they list are positive. Does that mean that the “BTR” is perfect?
If you’re like me, you assumed that the use of the word blocker in the title refers to how the mechanism works. Not so. The BTR was invented by a Mr. Ted Blocker. Mr. Blocker is a natural horseman who saw a problem and came up with a solution. He says on his website blockerranch.com, “After years of watching and hearing of horses injuring and even killing themselves, from being tied solid as well as people getting hurt trying to get them loose. I decided that there must be a better safer more humane way to tie a horse.” This is what he came up with:
Original, more permanent BTR and the newer BTR 2 which is more portable.
Basically, you have a ring with a post that swivels attached to it. The swivel allows you to easily “tie” your horse up by folding your lead rope and slipping it around the post. That post then creates tension on your lead rope making it so that your horse has to pull pretty hard to get the rope to slide. That is the whole idea. The BTR should keep your horse secure unless he panics and pulls back creating enough pressure to make some of the rope slide. Having some give in the lead rope during a panic attack helps the horse to calm back down. Blocker Ranch does an excellent job explaining how to use their product here. There are several different ways to wrap your lead rope around the post in order to create different levels of tension and meet the needs of individual horses. Level one is pretty straightforward. Levels 2 and 3 make my head spin from just looking at the instructions. I guess if I had to I could figure it out. We all figured out how to tie a quick release knot after all.
I recently posted in a Facebook horse group, asking people to share their thoughts on the Blocker Tie Ring with me. I think I opened Pandora’s Box. I got a huge response and the opinions varied from, I own six of them and would never tie a horse without it to, horses get loose and get hurt because of them. In addition to talking to people via social media, I scoured sales sites for reviews from people who had purchased the BTR. I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for you from real horse people like you.
Prevents injury to horse and horseman: no sling-shotting quick release snaps, no bounce back from horses tied fast, no getting trampled as you try to free your panicking horse, no horses hanging from the halter.
Valuable tool for training horses with pulling back issues. I heard several stories of rescued horses who couldn’t be tied until they used a BTR. I have personal experience with this.
Less broken equipment! Anyone who’s ever owned a horse who learned he can pull back to get loose knows that replacing all those halters, buckles and snaps adds up.
Appropriate for all kinds of settings: hitching rails, cross ties, inside and outside of trailers, take to shows or on trail rides
Improves trailering safety: if a horse falls in the trailer, the BTR will slip and give the horse enough slack to be able to get back up, or at least not hang. Ann told me a story about how the BTR saved her gelding’s life in a trailering accident.
Horseman safety: the BTR boasts of being safer for the human but I encountered stories of injuries caused by the BTR. One review I found tells of someone breaking their finger in the BTR. I’m not really sure how that happened, you’re not supposed to stick your finger in the ring. One lady told me a story about how the wind blew her long hair into the ring right as her horse pulled back. He hair got tangled in with the lead rope and she almost had quite a wreck.
Horses can learn to work the system and escape, putting themselves in danger. Julie tells a story of a horse who pulled free from a BTR at a horse show and wandered into traffic and got killed. (Where was the owner?!)
Value: most agree that the $25 is well worth it, but that is a fair bit to shell out for something that you’re used to being free. Also, I was told that after a while the magnets come off of the post.
Convenience: Its not as easy as just tying your horse, especially if you’re traveling. Snapping the BTR 2 onto the tie ring is not hard, you just have to remember to have it with you. Occasionally you will encounter something that you can’t attack a BTR to. The rings on the hitching rail at my wash rack are too big around to snap to. Or what about a tree on a trail ride? One user suggested using baling twine to attach the BTR. You would certainly need some kind of a backup system in place for these situations.
Is the BTR simply a training tool to teach your horse to tie so that you can eventually graduate on to “real” tying? No. That’s not the intention of the inventor. The BTR is a safety tool intended to be used on horses of all training levels in all types if settings.
Does the kind of lead rope you tie with matter? Yes. Users report that lead ropes that are too small in diameter slip through the ring too easily. It’s also important to make sure that there are no knots or kinks in your rope.
Is it okay to leave my horse unsupervised when tied with the BTR? No. It’s never okay to leave your horse unsupervised when tied no matter what method of tying you use.
Why not just loop the lead rope around the post a few times, isn’t it the same thing? I think in some situations its okay to do this. I’ve found that this method works okay on the smooth metal pole of my hitching post but that’s really the only surface I like it on. And it’s still not as good. My horse gets loose from loops and not from the BTR. If you do try the looping method, make sure that your loops don’t cross each other at any point.
Is it perfect? No. We still have to be aware and use our heads. Is it better? Yes, I believe so. I think that as the BTR gains popularity, the number of tying accidents will diminish. The BTR is a valuable asset to the horse community, and like other natural horsemanship tool, it makes happier horses and happier owners. To learn about more natural horsemanship tools, check out my article: Natural Horsemanship Training Tools.