Gotta Get Down? Get A Get-Down Rope.

Posted in: Featured, Horse Supplies, Ranch Life

Cowboys all over cowboy country use bridles on their horses, and out here in the Great Basin we add a get-down rope onto a bridle outfit as well. A buckaroo never leads his horse by his bridle reins, as that can bump the bit against the roof of his horse’s mouth, causing pain and damage. Instead, he uses a thin rope to lead his horse for short distances when out cowboying.

Get-downs are either tied around the horse’s throat latch or attached to an under bridle, which is a small, thin hackamore.

Under bridle

In northern Nevada, under bridles are often beaded in colorful patterns by one of the talented artisans from the Duck Valley Reservation. Since they aren’t under much stress (the under bridle, not the artisan. The artisans’ personal stress levels vary by individual), they can be more delicate and decorative than a regular hackamore.

The get-down rope itself is usually made of horse hair, and a few are made of human hair. These are a little spendier but much softer than horse hair. Out here, when a long-haired gal goes to a ranch rodeo or trade show, she flips her braid over the front of her shirt and doesn’t turn her back on Merlin Rupp or Larry Schutte. Those hair rope makers would whip out their pocket knives and give Rapunzel a pixie cut if they thought they could get away with it.

Some get-downs are made of nylon, usually with a rawhide button tied onto the end. These are a little cheaper and good for using in inclement weather.

Regardless of the type of material, lead ropes are super handy for outside riding. Cowboys use them when they dismount for a short time for little chores like opening wire gates or airing out their horses’ backs. The rest of the rope runs along the horse’s neck, where the tail is either coiled up and tied to the front of his saddle by his saddle strings or ran through his belt.

Look how much fun get-down ropes can be! Oh, wait, this is how much fun riding with Daddy during a break in the branding action can be. Here, Jim has the get-down tied around Teaks’ throat latch with the tail tied to the front of his saddle.

Cowboy and daughter

Some guys loop part of the rope through their belt and leave a tail, but this can be dangerous if a person got bucked off. The tail can slip through the loop, rendering the former rider tied to a loose, bucking horse he is no longer riding.

Get down rope


Some cowboy people (such as myself) prefer to fold up the tail of their lead rope and stuff it down the front of their Levi’s.

Get down rope

This works best when wearing a shirt with an extra-long tail to avoid chaffing. I like this method because there’s no chance of getting hung up if bucked off, and the rope is readily available as soon as you step off your horse to lead him. Plus, it takes just a few seconds to re-fold it and be ready to ride again. If the rope is tied to the front of your saddle, you have to untie it, lead your horse wherever you need him to go, coil up the tail again and tie it back to your saddle, then swing aboard and ride off.

The fourth and final method of get-down rope securing is to run the tail through your belt loop with no coils or folds.

Get down rope

This only works if your lead rope is fairly short. Otherwise, the tail will drag through the sagebrush and dirt, occasionally grabbing your horse by the hind leg like a snake. But, it’s a great, safe solution if your rope is too short for the other methods.

Posted in: Featured, Horse Supplies, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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