Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Horse Training – Wrapping Your Saddle Horn

My neighbor, Paco, asked me to stop by the other day and look at a saddle he just traded for. I guess in this bad economy lots of horse related things are going cheap, horses, trailers and now saddles. He got a pretty good buy on a used Cutting type saddle. You know the type, with a long skinny saddle horn so the rider can hold on while his horse moves laterally and quickly to keep a cow in front of him.

Paco wanted to wrap his saddle horn to make it thicker and more substantial. I told him that wrapping it won’t make it any stronger, that the horn will still break off from the tree if it had a mind to do so, but it protect the horn if he’s roping and dragging from it.

Paco is not going to roping cows anytime soon, but I have explained to him in the past that rope training your horse and being able to drag objects with a rope is just good for his trail horse.

I told Paco that I have wrapped horns three different ways in the past. 1 – Cutting a strip from an bicycle inner tube and wrapping the horn in that manner, 2 – using store bought roping horn wrap, which is much like thick rubber bands and wrapping them around the horn – the trick here is to get it tight, and, 3 – Using Mule Hide to wrap the horn in a more traditional manner.

The Inner tube and store bought roping horn wraps have some give to them, so as you dally (wrap the rope around your horn) with a cow on the end of the rope, the shock is somewhat dissipated by the cushioning of the rubber horn wrap, as well as helping to protect the saddle horn from rope burns. If you are a mind to, you can get store bought horn wrap in several different colors: what I call inner tube black or tan (natural). Eventually rubber will dry rot and break off. Depending upon your geographical location, this could be several years.

The store bought rubber horn wrap is called “dally wrap” or “dura wrap”. You can also get a nylon plaited wrap that slips on the horn (with a little work I’d imagine).

I prefer the more traditional Mule Hide wrap. The trick is to get it tight. You started by soaking the Mule Hide Wrap it in a bucket of water, then cutting a slit in one end so you create a loop that will sit over the saddle horn (photo 1). As the Mule Hide Wrap drie it’ll will shrink a little, helping the wrap get tight.

You tuck the end of the Mule Hide wrap through the gullet of the saddle, from rear to front and over the fork of the saddle (photo 2).

You start wrapping the Mule Hide wrap it in a clockwise fashion (as you are sitting in the saddle). The idea is to wrap in the direction you are going to dally your rope. (photo 3).

Note: Be sure you pull and stretch the Mule Hide Wrap as tight as you can get it. After I shot these photos and finished wrapping the Mule Hide Horn Wrap, I had to un-wrap it and wrap it again tight as I had to keep taking my hands off the wrap in order to take a picture.

You continue to wrap the Mule Hide Wrap as you want it, I pulled mine slightly over part of the horn, then tuck in the end of it inside one of the slits you cut in the beginning (see photo 3). If you wrap it tight enough you’ll need a hoof pick or other tool in order to slip the end underneath the beginning slit.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Round Skirt Saddles' post was removed because I won't stand for a lack of manners. Out West a lack of manners is fairly seriously.

  3. Thank you for this. :)
    While I've ridden western for quite a while, I'd never had a saddle with a horn wrap.
    I bought a used Colorado Equalizer recently, which needed a fair amount of cleaning and oiling after hanging unused in a barn. In my enthusiasm to get the job done, I unwrapped the horn to oil the leather...not paying enough attention, obviously, and when it came to putting it back on, I stood there scratching my head. :)
    Your post is exactly what I needed.

  4. Doesn't wrapping the horn wrap clockwise tend to un-wrap when the dally is applied counter clock-wise?

    1. No because the rope slips clockwise toward the animal roped and pulls the hide tighter

  5. Can I modify this and use sheet rubber? I dont plan on using it for roping; I tore up the leather on the horn of my aussie saddle (long story)and hoping this would keep the leather from deteriorating further.