How To Choose The Right Halter For Your Horse
There is hardly any piece of equipment that is more essential to horse owners than a halter. A halter can help prevent dangerous situations. It can help make a great reflection of your personality and style. It can also be a valuable training tool and an important part of showing success. When you buy a new horse, it is usually the only thing that comes with the horse.
When you get a new horse, buying a personalized halter is the first milestone purchase you will make to celebrate your new friend. You will need to depend on the performance of your halter to be able to effectively train the horse. In this article, you will learn some tips about how you can choose the best halters for your horse. You will also know what halters are and the various types that exist on the market.
What Is A Halter?
If you have ever tried to lead a horse by his forelock, then you will understand how helpful a halter can be. A halter simply helps you hold onto and properly direct your horse as you will.
When your horse is being led with a halter, they feel pressure on the sensitive area behind their ears. It is more like the head is being pushed forward by the crown pieces when you pull the lead rope. Halters come in varieties, ranging from mild to severe. And from rope halters to leather halters.
When you buy a halter with a wide material, it’s like the flat of someone’s hand. But if the halter is narrow or sharp, your horse will feel a concentrated pressure.
Getting a halter fit for your horse means they should also be comfortable in it. So when it comes to choosing a horse halter, you need to consider more than just style. There are some other factors you need to put into consideration. Remember, the type of halter you choose will determine how well you will be able to train your horse in it.
Training Is Essential
While choosing the halter that fits your horse is important, you mustn’t neglect training too. Proper halter training gives you the assurance that you can control your horse, regardless of the situation. Remember, what you want is to control your horse, and to achieve that, you will need them to cooperate with you. The halter is only telling them what you want, or that you don’t want what they are doing.
When your horse is well trained, they will understand what you want them to do with very little guidance. That way, you will be able to use any style of halter, because you will likely be safe even if you are applying pressure. But if your horse is yet to learn how to give to pressure, you need to be careful not to hurt or scare them with the halter. That could cause them to react.
It’s natural to want to react to pressure using pressure too. For instance, when someone tells you, “No, you can’t do that,” you will naturally want to respond with, “Yes I can.” The same thing happens with horses too. When they feel pressure from the halter, they naturally want to press into the pressure, as if to push it away. When they see that a small effort is not enough to achieve that, they usually push harder. Sometimes pushed to the point of running backward.
What is actually expected from the horse is to move their head down or forward in response to the pressure. But this doesn’t happen instinctively. It is a response that needs to be learned. So how do you train your horse to do this?
There are two ways to achieve that:
· Light pressure training
This is one way to train your horse to respond well to horse halters. Here, you will only need to apply light pressure on the halter. You are applying a little pressure, enough for the horse to move its head. The pressure should not be much to the extent that they feel the need to pull back.
With light pressure applied, your horse thinks for a moment and tries to figure out how to make that pressure go away. So it begins to try some options. One of such options is to move its head forward or down. At that point, you will release the halter and praise it for a job well done.
That way, it will be happy for guessing the right option and be rewarded for it. When you do this over time, it gets used to it, and the response becomes automatic.
· More severe pressure
Here, the pressure applied is more intense and usually done with a training halter. Pulling back is uncomfortable and painful sometimes. So you are required to tread with care here. Even if you are using pressure on the halter to tell your horse what to do, you need to release the pressure in time too.
Regardless of the training method you choose, you need to be sure your horse has learned to give to pressure before trying it. Test it several times, and in different situations.
Choosing A Halter For Your Horse
Bridles, saddles, and blankets can wait, but a halter is an essential piece of equipment you can’t postpone. It is so important that laws in some states require that a horse come with a halter when sold. But with the large varieties of halters in the market, it can be difficult for a newbie to know the right one to choose. Below are the different halter options for your new horse.
#1: Traditional Leather Halters
This is the type of halter every horse owner will love to have. If properly cared for, it can last a lifetime. They are usually made from cowhide with the pieces connecting via brass or metal fittings. For a customized fit, these halters are often highly adjustable at several points.
Traditional leather halters usually include padding for extra comfort and stylish look. It could also include rolled leather for more precise pressure and extra control. Some halters also clip to tighten at the throat latch. This makes them more convenient for grooming.
Leather halters tend to be more durable, but they usually break under pressure. So you need to be more conscious of safety if you are choosing this type of halter.
#2: Flat Nylon Halters
These types of horse halters are like leather halters. They are made from strong, versatile and inexpensive material. It is a popular choice for regular barn use. They come in different colors and the material wears well too. But, the flat nylon halters are usually very difficult to break, in case your horse got stuck on a stationary object.
Some of these types of halters come with leather tabs or crown pieces. These are designed to break under pressure. They are often sold as “safety” or “breakaway” halters.
#3: Grooming Halters
This is also like the leather and nylon halters, but lacks a throat latch. This makes it easy to groom the face of the horse. It also makes it possible for the halter to slip over the head in case your horse panics and pulls back when tied. Even so, you should know that grooming halters are not designed for in-hand work or for training.
#4: Rope Halters
This is common among many horsemanship trainers. Like the name implies, this halter is made from rope. They are tied together instead of using hardware connections to construct them like other halters. You also don’t buckle rope halters. Instead, you fasten them.
Most rope halters feature strategically placed knots over poll pressure points or the nose for added control of the horse.
It is easy to adjust rope halters to fit the size and shape of the head of your horse. You can do this by retying the knots, especially when you just bought the halter. But when it has been used for a while, the knots generally tighten, making them more difficult to adjust.
Rope halters are available in different stiffness and thickness. The thinner the rope, the more it bites into your horse when under pressure.
#5: Breakaway Halters
This type can sometimes be a halter designed with a snapped leather strap that connects the cheek piece to the crown piece. It can also be a halter with a leather crown piece. Even if your horse is the easy-going type, a breakaway is a safer choice for tying and turnout. Better than nylon and leather halters. Leather halters break under pressure. But, breakaway halters are designed to offer a more reliable release under pressure.
Some breakaways are particularly designed for turnout. They are made with Velcro straps rather than a snap. That way, they don’t release in case your horse is out on their own or tangled on brush. If your horse needs a safe turnout halter but tends to break their breakaways often, this is your best choice. The Velcro is super easy to re-attach and it doesn’t need you to replace anything.
#6: Show Halters
This is more like horse jewelry. They are designed for competition. A good example of such is showmanship classes and in-hand halters. No one show halter fits all. Every breed has its own show halter styles, requirements, trends and tradition. For instance, a show halter for an English show is different from that of an Arabian. This type of halter often features crystals, silver, or beading as well.
You need to know that halters are available in different styles and materials. So, getting the right halter for your horse depends on the type of horse you have. It also depends on your daily needs or competition, and your personal preference.
Take Measurement Of Your Horse Before Buying A Halter
This may sound like a tedious task because only a few people want to go the extra mile to get things right. But if you are one of the very few that is willing to do their best to give your horse the happiness they deserve, then do this.
Horse halters differ in sizes and shapes. When you are going to buy one for your horse, you want to be sure you are buying one that fits. Before buying a halter, do a little measurement. Take an estimate of where the nostrils should sit. That should be about 2/3 of the way down between the eyes and nostrils of the horse. Use a cloth tape or a string to measure around the horse’s face. Take note of the measurement.
Starting from the side of the horse’s face where you will have the noseband, measure from one side to the other. Now, take the measurement to the tack shop to guide you when choosing a halter for your horse.
Make Sure The Halter Fits
There is no point buying a halter that will not fit. The halter also shouldn’t be too tight or too loose on your horse. So you need to be accurate here. Buy a halter that perfectly fits your horse to avoid injuries and getting loose from it. When you take your halter home, make sure it actually fits before taking off the tags. While shopping, ensure you check the return policy of the store you are buying from.
The noseband should not be too snug when you put the halter on. Remember, your horse needs to be able to eat, drink, and yawn in it without restrictions. Make sure the throat latch is not drooping down too far. Put two of your fingers between the horse’s jaw and the halter and be sure they were able to fit.
It is also important that the halter is not too loose. Otherwise, the horse may put a foot through it when scratching. If it goes too loose, it can snag on things like twigs or gate latches.
Some halters come with adjustable throat latches and nosebands. This makes it super easy to make custom adjustments. All have a buckle that makes it possible for you to adjust it up or down. Once you find a halter that fits, you can use that as a point of reference in the future when you need to buy another halter. It is also a good idea to have an extra halter in case the one on your horse gets broken or lost.
Tips To Help Your Horse Learn
Remember that when you first buy a halter for your horse, you need to train with the horse to be able to master and respond well to the pressure from the halter. A good halter is seen in how the horse responds to its pressure. So it’s important that you help your horse quickly get the hang of training.
Here are some tips to help your horse learn fast.
Tip #1: Be precise with your methods
As stated earlier, there are a couple of methods you can adopt to make your horse learn the pressures of the new halter. Regardless of the type of method you want to use, what’s important is that you are precise with the method. If your methods vary too much, they become confusing to the horse. This makes it hard for them to understand what you want. To resolve this, make sure you work on your own riding skills so you can effectively communicate with your horse.
Tip #2: Change up your techniques if they aren’t working
Horses get bored easily when they are asked to repeat a routine over and over again. So check to see if your horse is responding well to your techniques. If not, consider changing any technique that seems to not be working, instead of repeating it over and over. Tip: don’t ask your horse to perform a task more than three times in a row.
Tip #3: Vary the rewards
Has your horse responded correctly to your halt command? Reduce the pressure as soon as possible. This is one way to reward the animal for what they did. There are other rewards you can dish out too. They include stopping to rest and pauses. They are great ways to motivate your horse for a good job.
Tip #4: Know when to stop
When you are making your horse respond correctly to the halter’s pressure, it’s important you know when to stop. Especially if you are teaching them how to respond to intense pressure, you need to be careful not to overdo it. This is important so you won’t be inflicting injuries on your horse.
Tip #5: Respond appropriately to your horse’s fear
Don’t punish them when they misbehave because they are afraid. This will make them more scared and they could associate your new halter with fear. When you notice your horse is afraid, give them a treat and help them relax.
Now, you know what halters are and the variations available on the market. It should not be difficult to choose the best fit for your horse any time you are in the market to make a purchase.
Table Of Contents
Chapter 1 – How To Choose The Right Halter For Your Horse
Chapter 2 – What Is A Halter?
Chapter 3 – Training Is Essential
Chapter 4 – Choosing A Halter For Your Horse
Chapter 6 – Make Sure The Halter Fits
Chapter 7 – Tips To Help Your Horse Learn
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