Monday, October 15, 2012

At the end of my rope

Alan is doing so well with his leading in the comealong hitch that it's only a matter of time until he graduates to a proper rope halter. 
I wanted to be prepared for that moment so I decided I would make him one. How hard could it be to tie a couple of knots 
in a rope and turn it into a halter? I saw an ad in the back of Western Horseman magazine for a company that sold the materials, 
so I gamely purchased a $9.65 kit, consisting of the rope – 20 feet of a stiff, diamond braid 1/4" nylon  – and instructions.

If the instructions proved true, Alan would be wearing 
a spiffy Imperial Red custom-fitted rope halter in one to two hours.

The instructions lied. I studied the diagrams, I did exactly as instructed, I measured, I remeasured, 
I borrowed Hank's rope halter for inspiration. Two hours into the process,
all I had to show for it was one incorrectly tied fiador knot.

I was at the end of my rope. The black and white, two-dimensional instructions were of no help,
so I did what I always do in times of trouble...

I turned to Professor Google and found a couple of halfway decent videos that showed me how to tie a rope halter.

Smooch: You really need to stop with the swearing. It doesn't become you.

By late Saturday afternoon, now three hours into this DIY adventure, I had successfully tied what I believed to be
the hardest knot in the project - the fiador. Ripe with confidence, I went outside for the first fitting on the model.

Perfection. Thinking it would be all downhill from here, I went back in the house, resumed play on the video,
and sat there dumbfounded for three more hours, tying and untying, retying and almost crying,
and finally decrying tomorrow's another day. I'll try again once I'm fresh and caffeinated.

So Sunday morning dawns and I'm back in front of YouTube, with one eye on a knot-tying video 
and the other eye on Felix Baumgartner planning to freefall from space at 833.9 miles per hour.
Damnit! If Felix can break the sound barrier, I can tie a stinkin' rope halter!

The hours click by...Felix has ascended more than 128,000 feet tied to a balloon and I'm still trying to tie a double overhand knot. 
It was hard to concentrate. I kept running out on the porch to look up at the sky and see if Felix's balloon might be visible. It wasn't.

Anyway, Felix jumps and lands safely, and by golly I figured out how to tie the damned rope halter.
Thank you, Felix. You were an inspiration.

Me: Alan, are you ready to try this on?

It fits, it works, and all that's left to do is trim the ends off.

So the picture of Alan wearing his halter was going to be the last photo in this post.
Then I received an e-mail Sunday night from reader Auntie Em, who sent along the picture below.
Apparently she was in Roswell when Felix landed.

And look who else was there to greet him!
Thank you, Auntie Em. I was so busy tying knots I didn't notice the herd took a field trip.


  1. So based on what your time is worth on a normal work day and the number of hours you struggled with the halter, a $9.95 kit ran you about 500 bucks? But as they say on the Visa ad.....10 hours of pure frustration, $500.....satisfaction at a job well-done, priceless!

    You definitely have WAY more patience than me! My kit would have landed in the trash can after about an hour!

  2. Fantastic job.

    I purchased the pre-tied halters and had difficulty just tying it to stay on!

    Now, make that video and become a star.

  3. Alan looks very handsome in his new halter!
    I have to hand it to you! I would have given up after twenty minutes, and thrift be damned.

  4. I would have abandoned the project and bought one on eBay for $7.00! But you DID make me snicker this morning. ;)

    Alan does look VERY handsome in his red halter though. And the boys look thrilled to be posing with the jumper guy who almost landed in your backyard!

  5. Estella from Co.10/15/12, 6:27 AM

    Great you just need to make a few dozen more to get it down pat. It does look nice on him and I like the color. I'm sure the kids were just trying to help Felix pick up all his gear and do some crowd control. Have a good day and hugs to the kids.

  6. Holy cow, that would have put me in a snit for sure. I hate feeling outdone by "simple" jobs. You are a better woman than me.

  7. Poor Smooch, subjected to a colorful language lesson...tee hee. I'm would say I am with the others in frustration junction but I love a challenge like the knots and making something that is less than easy. It's why I admire your tenacity in all things. Alan has never looked so proud of you and purdy too.
    Auntie Em did a great job of capturing the joy of the space milestone as it pretains to the keepers of the ground at 7MSN. Great fun photo.

  8. this might be one of my most favorite of all your post. i would have jumped up and down on the halter at the end of the first two hours, driven to where ever and bought one. congrats on tying it. i love love love the last shot.

  9. I look forward to reading your blog every morning. Good job on the halter. Would you do it again?

  10. LOL Halters are not easy to tie!!

    I cheated and used double stick tape on a board and layed it out on that so it wouldnt move. I have tied several, but still have to use my tape and board every time! LOL
    The fiador is hard too!

  11. Excellent job! Nothing is easy working from a kit, and always allow two days, never less. Now when someone tells you they are going to go buy a halter, you can just say "I always make my own, a little rope and some time is all you need".

    Jo and Stella

  12. Well done! I've waged that war a few times, you sure do need a good supply of swear words lined up. Now that I have found a place that I can buy them for just a little more than the rope costs, I have been saving my curse words for carpentry projects.

  13. Good for you, for finishing the halter. The instructions look a bit tricky. It looks perfect on Alan.
    I watched Felix and feared for his life til he landed. I don't remember learning about Joe Kittinger in the 60's. What a pioneer he is. They are two very brave men.
    It was nice of Felix to share the spotlight :)

  14. Red IS Alan's color!

  15. Kudos to you and Felix!

  16. Oh my goodness. You are too funny in this post. Loved it. I think I remember a pun somewhere but maybe not since I was reading in a huge hurry. Is there not anything that you can not do? I have to wonder if you have ever failed any project that you began!

  17. Carol in N. Colorado10/15/12, 10:25 PM

    Great job!! You had more patience than I would have. I would have driven to the feed/tack store or went online and bought one already to go. Knot tying is not for me.

  18. Best part of it all, Auntie Em was there to meet and greet Felix!

    This was hysterical...well the last part was.