By: Heather Mitchell-Matheson
In any area of the equine world and in any region of the globe, there are gadgets and gismos used for countless applications when it comes to handling or training horses. Some are of the gentlest nature, others stem from a long history of proper horsemanship and even some still exist that maybe never served much purpose other than to inflict pain. Regardless of how someone personally feels about a certain training tool, there is one constant piece of equipment that can be seen used in many different areas of the horse world: the chain.
The exact origin of the chain or “shank” is unclear but for as long as there has been workable metal and horses: there have been bits, spurs, chains and horse shoes. Prior to having workable metal readily available, most horsemen used leather or fibrous materials, like woven rope, as tools for equine related work. In essence the chain has been used for hundreds of years and in general it was used to further control or restrain livestock for any particular reason. A shank is defined as “a chain attached to a lead rope.” According to Wikipedia, “a lead shank or lead chain refers to a lead line with a chain attached that is used in a variety of ways to safely control possibly difficult or dangerous horses if they will not respond to a regular lead.”