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A Pictorial Guide to Back Plaiting a Lead Rope

Begin with approximately 10 feet of three stranded cotton rope of 5/8 to 1/2 inch in diameter.

 

Back Plaiting the Handler’s End of the Lead Rope

There are two parts to this process. The first part (pictures 1 through 7) involves a crown knot. This keeps the three strands from unraveling further. Once a crown knot is tied, the three strands are woven back through the underlying, unraveled rope (pictures 8 through 17).

 

A ruler next to three strands of approximately 10 inches of rope.

1. Unravel about 8 to 10 inches of rope, and tape off ends to keep the strands from fraying.

A hand holding three strands of rope.

2. Grasp the rope so the beginning point of the unraveled strands is at the top of your fist. Position the strands apart from one another.

A hand holding three stands of rope. Strand one is crossed over strand 2.

3. Place one (1) of the strands over the adjacent strand to the right.

A hand holding three strands of rope with strand 2 over the tail of the first and second strand.

4. Place the adjacent strand (2) over the tail of the first strand and third strands.

A hand holding three strands of rope wth the tail of the third strand over the tail of the second strand and sliding into the first strand loop.

5. Place the tail of the third strand (3) over the tail of the second strand, and into the loop formed from the first strand.

A hand with three strands of rope formed into a knot.

6. Tighten the knot by alternating pulling pressure to each of the strands. This forms a crown knot.

A hand holding a knot made ny three strands of rope.

7. Pull the crown knot tight. Back braiding relies on this knot to be even and secure. The following steps involve braiding the loose strands (tails) into the unraveled portion of the rope beneath the crown knot.

A hand holding three strands of rope starting to braid the rope from a crown knot.

8. (The crown knot is on the right of the picture, the unraveled rope held by the hand located on the left of the picture.) One of the unraveled strands will be braided though the underlying rope by moving it over the first underlying strand and then under the next strand.

A hand holding three strands of rope placing the tail under the second strand creating a braid.

9. Place the tail under the second underlying strand.

A hand holding three strands of rope and pulling the first tail through the unraveled strand.

10. Pull the tail completely through the unraveled strand.

A hand with three strands of rope braiding from a crown knot.

11. Moving to the right, grasp the next unraveled strand from the crown knot and repeat the process.

A hand with three strands of rope placing the first rope tail over unraveld strands to create a braid.

12. Place the tail over one, then under the next unraveled strand. Pull it tight, and complete the same process with the remaining (third) strand.

A hand holding three strands of rope creating a plaited braid.

13. This is what the rope should look like after each of the three tails has been back plaited through the rope once.  Repeat the process until the strands have been back plaited completely.  Do not back plait a strand more than once before rotating to the next strand.

A hand holding three strands of rope rotating and back plaiting the remaining unraveled rope.

14. The process of rotating each time, and back plaiting over one and then under an underlying stand is repeated until the ends have been back plaited entirely through the underlying, unraveled rope.

Two hands tightening three strands of rope.

15. Once you have plaited most of the rope, tighten the plaits by pulling on the ends.

One hand holding the rope and one hand using scissors to cut the ends of the rope.

16. The ends can then be cut off. If the plaits are not tight, you may want to tape around the rope in line with the ends of the strands.

Two hands holding the completed back plaiting handler's end of the lead rope.

17. When complete, the handler’s end of the rope should appear similar to this picture. The process of securing a snap on the other end is next.

Plaiting a Snap to a Lead Rope

It is recommended to back plait the handler’s end of the rope before the snap end so you can learn the back plaiting process. The snap end does not use a crown knot, so it can be more difficult to begin the back plaiting.

A hand holding three strands of rope after unraveling the ends of the rope.

1. Similar to the beginning of back plaiting the handler’s end of a lead rope, begin by unraveling about 8 to 10 inches of rope. A helpful aide is to use a rubber band to secure the rope from unraveling more than wanted.

A hand placing two of the unbraided strands through the eye of the snap.

2. Place two of the unbraided strands through the eye of the snap.

Two hands running the remianing strand of rope through the eye of the snap in the opposite direction from the other two strands.

3. Run the remaining strand through the eye in the opposite direction of the first two strands.

Two hands running the third strand over the initial two strands and pulling all the strands tight.

4.  The third strand will run over the initial two strands.  Pull the strands tight.  You will then begin the back plaiting process.

A hand starting the back plaiting process ny taking the first strand over and under strand two.

5.  Begin with one of the two initial tails. Move over one strand to its right and then under the next strand.

A hand completing the back plaiting process with strand two.

6. Complete the same procedure with the second strand. Retighten the plaits and then move the third strand.

The third strand of rope ran through the opposite direction of the other two strands.

7.  The third tail is the strand that was run through the eye the opposite direction of the first two strands.  Repeat the same process of plaiting by moving over one strand then under the strand to the right. It may appear that you need to move over two strands before moving under a strand in order for this strand to be aligned evenly with the first two strands.

Two hands working with all three strands making a braided rope.

8. Alternate the process with each of the three strands, working down the braided rope. Do the back plaiting process once on each strand, rotating from strand to strand. Do not back plait a strand more than once before moving to the next strand.

The completed lead rope with a snap.

9. When completed, the snap is secured in place with 8 to 10 inches of back plaiting. Similar to the handler’s end of the rope, the loose tails can be cut even with the plaits. If the plaits are not tight, tape can be used to encircle the rope in the location of the cut tails.

 

Kris Hiney
Extension Equine Specialist

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