After a somewhat scary experience out hacking yesterday I have determined I am never going out without wire cutters. Barbed wire sucks! Pony is just fine (not even a scratch and, luckily didn't get caught up or anything) but I am going to heed this warning.
So- I'd love some pointers as to what kinds of wire cutters work best on rusty b-wire.
If you have the lovely set with a leather case- where'd you get it?
Gee, I've had my wire cutters for so long that I can't remember where I got them. Maybe what was Dominion Saddlery at their Chantilly store. Mine came with the leather case- the kind that goes on the off side front dee ring/billet (there are models made to be carried on the sandwich case dees at the rear).
That said, however, I haven't carried them for a while, because I now carry a multi-tool, not a Leatherman but a pretty good faux Leatherman, which has the capability to cut wire and do many other things- like pull porcupine quills from a hound's nose.
I, too, want wire cutters every time out, but do be aware that some Masters get nervous when they see 'strangers' carrying wire cutters, because it HAS been known to happen that someone who can't get a horse over a jump will just cut the wire and keep going. You can imagine that a landowner would not be pleased by such a turn of events. Hence, for me, the multi-tool, worn on my belt, affords the emergency protection I want without setting of alarms in a Master's head.
I will add two general warnings. First, training your hunt horse to hobbles will avoid the damage that can occur from getting hung up in wire- which is to say, it isn't the first encounter that causes the damage, but the panic- stricken thrashing about. The hobble training is nothing more than getting in a round pen or other enclosure- small enough for 'some' confinement but large enough to avoid getting kicked- and placing a soft cotton rope around each leg (I do hind legs too) and teaching the horse that the rope pressure on that leg means- initially- don't resist, and give me that leg- working up to a calm halt when the end of the rope is reached and pressure hits any of the four legs.
Second warning- if a horse tangled in wire doesn't have above training or equivalent, and commences to thrashing- get out of the way and stay out of the way til the thrashing ceases. Yes, likely to be some serious damage to the horse, but humans need to stay safe- and trying to get a panicked horse to cease thrashing won't work, will only increase chances of injury to well intentioned human.
Get a pair of baby bolt cutters. They will give you leverage to cut when regular wire cutters don't work. I've actually had a professional huntsman make the "Oooh-ooh-ooh!" tool-guy noise when I whipped them out and handed them to him when another whip's wire cutters weren't getting the job done. Bought mine at TSC. They are 8" long or less and look like this:
I have a Leatherman Core. It was about $100 at Gander Mountain, and came with a nice little nylon belt case.
I don't ride or trailer without it, and used it twice last season to cut other people's horses out of barbed wire. That thing kicks butt.
"Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin
I have a lovely set from the silent auction at last season's huntball . They are in a sweet little leather case and attach to rear D-rings. I have heard it said there are benefits to having wire cutters on your person vs on your saddle. If the horse is caught & thrashing it may be hard to retrieve them from the back of a saddle. If they are on your belt you won't have that difficulty. Makes sense but I still love the pair I carry.
I would suggest that you look at the cutter sold by Horse Country.
It is really a pretty ordinary cutter that you could probably find a a hardware store at a fraction of the cost, but it is in a very nice leather case ready to go on your saddle.
I never ever get on a horse without them. Not even when remaining on my own farm. Rusty wire can last for more than 50 years and is very hard to see. You can go over it for years and not see it until the day your horse moves just the right way to snag it.
One word of advice. Many years ago, there was a very proper, very neat looking pair made in England. Looked great, but it took a strong grip to cut wire with them. The cutters from Hunt Coutry cut wire like butter.
You can get a horse wrapped up in old grape vine so that he is totally trapped. Cutters work great in that situation also.
Another thing. It is easy to drop them in the leaves when things are exciting. The pair I got came with a red plastic cover on the handles so they are easy to see.
I remember losing the old cutters while hunting in PA and crawling around in the grass for about a half hour before I found them. Funny thing, I had carried them for many years and never had that happen but about 6 months later, lost them while visiting another hunt. Never found them that time.
Thanks all for your advice!
The pony was a wonderful superstar yesterday- stood still, didn't worry (to my amazement!) and luckily didn't even get wrapped up in it. It was some of that nasty old rusty stuff lying hidden under leaves- found it when we had to leave the trail to get around a huge fallen tree.
So- having lost several years of my life due to fright, wire cutters are top of the list.
The idea for bolt cutters is great too- didn't think about needing that extra force, but totally makes sense.
I'm also planning on putting together a little first aid kit- vet wrap and the like- trying to ward off murphy's law
A gal I hunt with also recommended the baby bolt cutters so I went that route. Bartville Harness will make a case to fit your cutters if you send the cutters in with your order. They made my case for $50 off the prototype of one I sent. The price could vary based on the specs you need.
I have a pair of mini bolt cutters on my saddle each time I hunt or hack out from the barn. That darned wire is like land mines out there! I've had the good luck to only need them once, but man when you need them, you need them to work perfectly!
When I bought mine I had the idea that I wanted to be able to work with them quickly and with only one hand if necessary. I envisioned myself out alone and trying to hold my horse as I worked to free him!
I have a set like the one in the foxhuntingshop photo and quite frankly I can't always cut barbed wire with them. I think those are really made to cut electrical wire or something IMHO. Maybe I'm a weakling but.....whatever you do....TRY any pair you buy on newish double stranded barbed wire before you buy them cuz I can't believe I'm the only one who's "weak"!!! I like the ones with the round head that are more like fence wire pliers/cutter thingeys! Just a smaller version. I don't carry mine anymore because I doubt my ability to be helpful. I've cut foxes & my horse outa snare traps with them but that's thinner, single wire. Just not enough strength or something....oh well....it does give you a sense of security but mine was false security.
Has everyone actually used theirs?
I looked at the links in this thread and well.....
It looks like you can get a great pair of wire or bolt cutters at a regular hardware store for a WHOLE LOT less money than if you buy the same thing from a "horse supply" place. I'm talking about less than 1/5 price.
You will have to devise your own carrier, but a standard $10 tool belt will do that as well.
My baby bolt cutters cost me $12 or $13 from Ace Hardware in town.
Yes, as compaired to these linked above, for $129.95. Note the pliers pictured are common diagonal wire cutting pliers (dikes) which are suitable for cutting electrical type wire, but not thick barbed wire. I can see why cutting wire is "too hard" if a person is trying to cut barb wire with dikes.
Check with your local hardware store. You can find small bolt cutters, a fencing tool, or cutting pliers suitable for use on barb wire for less than $25.