product review · trailering

Product Review: Chain Shank

Product Review: Chain Shank

This goes hand in hand with last week’s ode to the cotton lead rope, but this one is slightly more specialized.

99.5% of the time, I lead Tristan with just the regular cotton lead. He’s well-behaved enough that I’ve been known to just toss the lead rope over my shoulder and let him follow me. In the barn itself, we’re working on a “go home” command that sends him to his stall.

Enter the horse trailer.

Tristan hates horse trailers. With fiery passion. Horse trailers mean not only the stress and discomfort of the ride itself, but also the near-guarantee of hard work at the other end. He’s pissy enough about them that he will stop and stare at parked trailers in the driveway, quivering in horror, hoping against hope that I won’t make him get on.

So, when we haul, we use a chain shank. We have a system: I bring him up to the edge of the ramp or trailer. He is allowed to stand still, and allowed some sidling, but he may not under any circumstances go backwards. When he goes back, it is never just one step: it is a bat out of hell zoom straight back. When that happens, I follow him and shank hard one, two, three times. If he rears (which happens less and less often now but is not unexpected) he gets shanked again and chased back.

When he comes down or stops he looks at me, and he looks at the trailer. He licks and chews. He ducks his head. And then he walks on. It never fails. He just needs to register his complaint, at maximum volume, before he submits.

Hence this chain shank. Tris has no need for a chain shank in his regular life, and I don’t want to complicate things by switching lead ropes every time we go anywhere. So this chain snaps to the end of the regular lead rope, and it snaps off again when we’re done. Instant chain shank lead. In the meantime, it lives in the trailer’s tack trunk. It is an elegant, simple solution to needing a chain shank – but not wanting a whole other lead rope.

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