High Lining Zorro


Don't worry, the tree in the middle was very dead so wrapping the rope around it didn't hurt it one bit!

I started camping with my ponies last year. When I took Sky I also took some 4' long cattle panels that we had cut to length, to make hauling them easier. We had planned to pound some T-posts into the ground at the campsite to make a pen for the two ponies to stay in. BUT the ground was so hard we simply couldn't pound the posts. Several people tried but it just wasn't going to happen.


There were a few people that were high lining but I wasn't sure Sky would be alright, nor did I have a high line set up, so we gerry-rigged a pen up using zip ties, the hitching rail and the back of the horse trailer. It was actually a miracle the ponies stayed in the pen.


So this year I decided I would rather high line Zorro. Not only would I feel he was more secure (ironically!) but it would really simplify what I had to haul with me.


I started doing research and found out that the horse or pony needed to be good about being tied - CHECK! I've been tying Zorro since he was a yearling and he understands standing quietly.


I needed the long rope, the tree saver straps, and in line swivels to tie to. I went looking for the best I could afford and found Trail Max on Amazon. I could buy a kit or put my own together. I decided to just buy exactly what I needed, the tree savers, the long rope and two in line swivels.

Once I received the equipment I put a high line up here at the house and started tying Zorro to it for a few hours a day working up to 4-6 hours at a time. He was completely comfortable by the time we went camping. He ate and drank and laid down to sleep all while tied to the high line.


Our practice high line. I tied the rope to the horse trailer and then to my deck railing on the house. I had to go up over the top of the horse trailer to get the high line to be high enough.

I can also tie my high line from the top of my Tahoe then put the rope over the top of my horse trailer and tie off to the other side. I use a pool noodle over the line to protect the top of my horse trailer when I do this.

Set up was super easy at the campsite, mostly because we have minis! We put one tree saver around one tree, as high up as I could reach, then stretched the line as tight as I could to another tree where I had a tree saver and tied off to that!



The minis didn't need the line to be very high, but the big horses DO need it to be high. Putting the line as high as you can reach, standing on a ladder or in the back of a pick up truck is what is going to help your line stay tight. If your line loosens the horses can get their heads over the line. For long time high line horses this is not a problem but for young horses or ones that don't high line very often this just makes it easier for them to get tangled in the high line and their own lead rope.


Some people just tied their horses straight to the high line rope. I like my in line swivels however. They allow my ponies to walk around under the high line without tangling up their lead rope. If a horse walks too many circles they can twist up their lead rope so much that they can nearly hang themselves. The in line swivel allows them to move around without twisting, and shortening, the lead rope.


You can see the in line swivel in this photo.

At other camp sites there aren't always enough trees to stretch my high line from one tree to another. In that case I tie one side of the high line to a tree and the other to my Tahoe:


This high line wasn't very high. Over night Zorro did manage to pull it down quite a bit but he is a good boy and didn't get tangled. He had his sister, Gracie on the high line with him but she was also just fine in the morning.

There are a few good articles about high lining that I read before I started practicing:


The Horse High Line

How to Set Up a High Line When Camping with Horses and Mules

Using a Horse High Line


A few tips from me:

  1. I was using a 5 gallon bucket to put Zorro's water in, but he tipped it over all the time. I found a shorter, 4 gallon bucket that I used last time and that worked better, but if you have a short black rubber pan style bucket that would work even better. Something they can rub their faces on but NOT tip over. Placing this and the hay directly under where Zorro is tied works great because then he can walk in a circle and not knock over the water or walk all over the hay.

  2. I don't use the hay nets when camping. It's just too frustrating for the ponies to try to eat out of and they end up tossing it too far for them to reach and then get fussy. So I just toss loose hay on the ground in small amounts so Zorro eats it and doesn't just poop on it.

  3. I clean up the poop every time he goes and I'm around. This keeps the area nice and clean.

  4. Before I tie the pony to the high line I walk all around under it, clear bushes and check for wire or other random things that end up on the ground up in the mountains.

  5. I do NOT feed grain or any other hard feed when camping. There is a certain amount of stress that occurs when camping, they are somewhere new, tied up whenever they aren't working and they are typically working for longer periods than when at home. It's a perfect set up for colic. Adding any type of hard feed on top of this stress just increases the odds. Both times we have been camping with the group one of the horses colicked. Luckily not one of mine!



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© 2023 by The Essential Horse. Mindy Schroder.