The lunge line left out in the rain, the Stick n’ String put away covered in sand. Years go by without a thought, and these items start to rot away…
I was browsing online the other day, admiring the shiny new training equipment, then eyeing my 8 year old ropes, and stick n’ string with disgust. What was once brand new high quality yacht rope, was now stiff and dirt laden.
I had tried to wash them with a scrub brush and bucket before, but they always came out worse. Then I had a somewhat stupid epiphany. Couldn’t I just wash them in the washing machine?
They are not heavy, not absorbent, and the hardware comes off easily. So I gave it a shot. The result was equal to that of receiving a brand new set in the mail from Weaver!
With cold water, mild detergent and the delicate cycle, my training ropes came out brand new! I even took off the string of the Stick n’ String and washed it, to the same result.
Even my rope halters came out looking amazing!
Then I turned my attention to the leather parts of the tack, the bobbers on the ends had become dried out as well, and where showing signs of wear. I oil and clean all my other tack, why not these? So I did, and they also came out looking new too.
Why it had never occurred to me to clean these items is beyond me, I guess because it did not seem like it would make a difference. But it most definitely did.
So, what’s the point if you don’t care what your equipment looks like, as long as it works? I have quite a good answer to that…
Yacht rope is used in horse training for a multitude of reasons, it has great « feel » meaning you can feel the horse’s movements and vice versa, which makes it easier to train a horse to a light touch. Yacht rope is soft, and durable, easy on our hands, and comfortable for the horse to wear. It also has great energy transfer, meaning if you send a little wave through the rope to your horse, it won’t loose momentum before reaching them, so you can send cues down the rope using minimum energy, and it will make it to the other end.
None of this is true anymore if the rope is stiff and full of dirt. The other day I was trying to desensitize a mare around her back legs, so I was trying to take the string of my training stick, and gently swing it so it would spin around her legs, and then I would slid it off. But this did not work at all because the rope was so stiff it would just hit her in the back of her canon bones, then fall off.
So, unmaintained ropes, leads and training sticks don’t only looks bad, they loose their functionality, and won’t last as long, which if you remember the price tag, is the whole reason why you purchased them in the first place.
Note: Don’t try to wash ALL of your ropes, etc at once! Two at a time, max. And they will still come out a bit tangled.