One lesson that my father instilled in me from a young age is that if you are going to be around livestock, you should always have a knife in your pocket. He never let me forget it either. He’d ask me to spread straw and when I reached for the scissors, he’d give me the look and ask:
“Where’s your knife?”
I’d be struggling to open plastic packaging on a supplement container or a new piece of tack, he’d look at me and ask:
“Where’s your knife?”
It only took a few of those instances before I began packing my Victorinox Multi Tool everywhere with me, regardless of its bulkiness in my pocket or the bizarre looks I would get when I wore it on my belt to town. This is one lesson that has really held true to me for a few reasons. I still carry a knife with me to this day, whether I am sitting in the office or out working colts. Not only have I seen some major wrecks stopped in their tracks by a sharp knife, but you seem to need one more than you’d expect throughout day to day life.
From cutting a rope during a branding pen wreck to repairing a broken piece of tack, back in the hills, a good knife has many applications when horses are involved. There is no shortage of reasons for packing a knife or a multi-tool, but here are a few just for example:
· Cutting binder twine
· Opening shavings and feed bags
· Cutting lead ropes or lariats in a situation of panic
· Repairing equipment in emergency situations
There are a number of different styles of knives that I carry and there is a particular situation for each one.
1. Fixed Blade – I carry my fixed blade in a small sheath on the left hip of my chaps at all times when I am working horseback. My knife of choice is a Grohmann Flat-Grind Mini Skinner. It has a 2 ½ inch blade with a 4-inch handle that sits nicely in my girlish hands. It’s easy with my right hand from where it sits on my left hip and the sheath keeps it contained, yet accessible. A knife in the pocket of your jeans is basically useless once you pull your chaps on.
2. Multi-Tool – A multi-tool is one knife that is good to have on you at all times when dealing with horses and livestock. The pliers come in handy for many tasks such as repairing tack, fixing a fence and general maintenance. Multi-tools often also have multiple blades, such as smooth or serrated. Some varieties also contain a leather awl that is perfect for punching new holes when you find yourself in a bind. The Victorinox multi-tool is my personal favorite as it contains all of these elements.
3. Pocket Knife – This is the style of knife that I pack in my pocket every day. This knife is useful for the smaller, more consistent everyday tasks that may require a sharp edge. My personal favorite is the Gerber Paraframe Mini. It’s small and comfortable in my hand, fits in my pocket well and has a sturdy pocket clip. Pocket clips hand be hazardous to the longevity of your knife if they aren’t fitted tightly enough. They can catch on objects and pull your knife out of your pocket without you knowing. I have yet to have that issue with the Paraframe Mini however. Another bonus is that it's really simple to clean!
Knife care is also another imperative part to having a useful tool at your side. Maintaining sharpness ensures that your tool stays in good condition and remains useful. Dull knives can also be more dangerous than knives that are kept with a good edge. Checking the condition of your knives frequently will help you keep tabs on their condition.
A good knife in your pocket at all times is not only handy when working with horses, it is also just plain safe. Once you start carrying a knife with you, you begin to wonder how you ever went without one before!