No announcement yet.


No announcement yet.

Where to Pack the Lariat and How to Prevent Injuries

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Where to Pack the Lariat and How to Prevent Injuries

    Where to Pack the Lariat and How to Prevent Injuries

    By Steven Dacus

    Continuing on from our thread last week, we wanted to cover two more key pieces of information regarding the use of the lariat while in the field.

    We discussed the intended use of the lariat vs. the more common use. However, when used as intended, once the trooper’s horse got used to it, allowing it to graze all night after a long hard ride the previous day, it allowed for a much happier horse the next day. As many of you know, the benefit of the picket line over the next best option of hobbles is that the horse is generally confined to a specific location, while horses that use hobbles can go anywhere they want since they are only slowed down in getting to that final destination.

    The 60' diameter circle, as we talked about last time, was unrealistic. From personal, hands-on, experience, one thing that could have easily been done is to "choke" up on the rope at the picket pin, only allowing a 10' or 15' rope rather than thee whole thing. Thus one can easily cut the required area in half, bring the regiment closer in, and take much less space.

    Entanglement of the Horse in the Rope:

    One other thing you will quickly see horses do on the picket rope is tangle their feet in the picket rope. If the horse is trained to give to pressure, he will simply stay calm and wait however long it takes for the soldier to free him. However, as mentioned in “Nolan’s period manual on how to train cavalry horses” they must fully understand to give to pressure in all situations. Horses that do not give to pressure will have a hard time learning this process and get themselves and others hurt while also damaging government property.

    However, once they have the skill down, it is another tool in the toolbox on the road to creating an awesome cavalry horse. Taking some lessons from civilian accounts of the time, one thing that you can do that SIGNIFICANTLY reduces the potential for a dangerous entanglement, is to tie the end of the lariat to the horses hoof rather than to the main halter ring. Doing this brings the angle of the rope to the level plane of the ground allowing the horse to step over, through, and on it (allowing the rope to lay flat and not coil around the horses leg). This is why single leg hobbles are found in civilian artifacts of the time in addition to being common with horse owners even today. Every time I personally picket my horse, I either tie to his leg or use a period single leg hobble. After doing this, I have reduced my horse’s entanglements by 91% at least.

    It must be noted, however, that using a civilian pattern single leg hobble would NOT be NUG or standard issue. The reason I bring up using one or just tying to the foot of the horse is due to my personal experience, I have come to trust picketing by tying to a single leg as more reliable (with less rodeos) and have found that I do that myself from experience using the same gear/equipment that they were issued.

    Where to Pack the Lariat on the Saddle:

    The next question regarding these two pieces of equipment is exactly where to place them while packing for heavy marching order. As seen in Randy Steffen’s famous book “The Horse Soldier-Volume II”, there is one drawing of a civil war era soldier with his lariat on the front ring of the near side. Cooke’s tactics manual and the mid war Congdon’s Compendium do not address where to place the lariat. The only possible mention of it is in Poinsett’s manual on page 43 (1858 Print). It states that the “forage cord” should be rolled and twisted into a circle and attached to the left pack strap under the Schabraque. This statement still doesn't specify what ring or strap to tie it to, and leaves it to some speculation. It could mean to tie it to the near side rear ring, or since most of us don't ride with Schabraque’s, we could possibly loop the end of the lariat in the left rear coat strap. Period documentation or any mention of lariats is rare, let alone photographic evidence. The one picture that shows the most overloaded, packed down trooper that I know of (seen below) has a gigantic saddle bag, overloaded haversack, thick bedroll (way more than 6 inches), and so much more. Yet, no lariat or rope is seen. Now, it could be on the other side, but of course, these are the details that keep us going here on the AC.

    Again, the use of lariats in mounted reenacting is rare. If you use high-lines instead (which is arguably more accurate), the fatigue duty of cutting grass and laying it "liberally" at their feet is equally rare. The events we go to offer thousands of square feet of open field to accurately feed our horses. Let's help our hobby get rid of the modern square bales and graze our mounts or even cut grass by hand. Thoughts?

    Pics of Picketed and Tangled Horses:

    Attached Files
    Last edited by Eric Tipton; 06-09-2019, 09:11 AM.
    Steven Dacus
    Casper, Wyoming
    11th Ohio Cav (6th Ohio Cav: 1st Bat)

  • #2
    Re: Where to Pack the Lariat and How to Prevent Injuries

    I have carried rope/lariet a couple different places. I am not saying any of these are correct to the manual or a period reference. They have just been places I have carried. The rope was coiled into a loop and the excess wrapped around the center of the rope to somewhat hold the coil intact. I have used my blanket straps on the cantle to strap it to my blanket roll. It sort of works it way off the roll to settle behind the role and and rest slightly on the horses rump. If I have a nose bag, I have put the coil in the nose bag and run the strap of the nose bag through the opening of the pommal and carried on the off side. If I didn't have a nose bag, I have tied the coil with a short piece of leather or string to the offside ring on the front of the saddle. I am sure somewhere along the way, I have tied it to the ring on the offside of the rear ring, but not as often as the other locations. Just food for thought. Each place has advantages, I think it is what I was comfortable with at the time and what else I might be carrying.
    Rob Bruno
    1st MD Cav