hi Bob,

complying with on from a vacation in California wherein my friends and also I were stumped ~ above a descriptive word, I have a concern for you:

What are the wooden write-ups called that you see exterior saloons in Western films where cowboys would tie their horses?

They room traditionally in a soccer "goal" shape, i.e. 2 upright short articles with a short article that operation on top in between the 2 uprights.

You are watching: What do you tie a horse to

J. L.


The thing you"re talking around is called a hitching rail -- often mistakenly referred to as a hitching post. You"ll uncover a little an ext about that in Q&A #162 -- Do-it-yourself hitching posts.

As I mention in the Cowboy Dictionary, in the at an early stage days -- specifically in California -- hitching rails were rare. This is why the original vaquero "lariat" -- or "reata" -- didn"t have actually a loop and was not provided for working cattle. The was just a an extremely long command rope (sometimes 30 or 35 feet long) which to be tied come a horse"s head. Once a rider required to leave his horse outside while he entered a building, the driver simply held the end of the reata, which prolonged out the door to the horse. As soon as not used to certain the horse, the reata was coiled up and also tied to the saddle -- as in the situation of Calamity jane in the picture at the right.

(Photo courtesy Library of conference Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-47390.)

If you look at an extremely many old photos of western towns, you"ll notice that shop -- including saloons -- virtually never had a hitching rail in front. Around the only place where you"d watch one was in front that a livery stable. There room several factors for this....

1. Horses tied in prior of a store will conveniently produce big piles of smelly and also fly-attracting manure. That situation was no conducive to illustration in customers and required extra labor to eliminate the stuff.

See more: Birds Of A Feather Flock Together But, Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

2. Sellers wanted the prior door readily available to horse-drawn wagons and buggies for this reason customers could easily pack up your purchases. Having also one equine tied up in prior made it very complicated to park a wagon there. Again, if girlfriend look at countless old picture you"ll generally see a goodly variety of wagons parked along the streets, however few, if any, saddle horses.

(For example, take it a look in ~ the photograph at left of Placerville, California"s main Street, taken about 1865. It"s a lengthy street with many wagons on that -- and also nary a hitching rail in sight! from a stereograph photographic print, courtesy that the Library that Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-20162.)

3. A hitching rail is not the many secure technique of restraining a saddle horse. If a rider plans come be away from his horse for an ext than a minute or two, it"s ideal to either steady the critter or rotate it in in ~ a corral. In the old west, every livery stables, hotels, feed stores, etc. Had actually a corral available for shoppers, travelers, and such. Plenty of of those corrals to be offered cost-free of charge, in the same means that a contemporary shopping center might offer cost-free parking in stimulate to entice customers.

So, why do many movies have actually the streets lined through hitching rails? Simple. Having the cowboys take the moment to revolve their steeds in in ~ a corral would slow-moving down the action too much. Watch closely, and you"ll likewise see the the actors typically just offer the reins a rapid wrap or two about the rail. In genuine life (as opposed to reel life) a steed tied in the manner would soon be wandering under the street trying to find some grass to munch. What you don"t see in the movies are the breed cub handlers who step in to organize the steed as shortly as it"s out of camera range!