Your horse’s halter refers to the fundamental tool that is placed on his head and used in tying him, leading him and conveying simple commands to him. If you do not halter-break your horse, you will not be able to handle him or do anything with him at all. In fact, this is the foremost initial step in training your horse.
Foals & Young Horses
Within a few days of birth, it is essential to place a halter on a foal’s head so that he gets used to having it on as early as possible in his life. While the foal will also not have developed any bad behaviors at this early stage, his small body size will also make him easier to deal with. Remember to ensure that the foal’s halter is tight enough not to get snagged on objects along his way by using a halter that suits his head well.
Halter-Breaking an Adult Horse
If your horse was born out in the pasture or he was left untrained during the first part of his life, halter-breaking him when he is older becomes much harder and takes more time and patience on your side. During the halter-breaking process at this age, encourage him to be gentle and allow you to handle him by rewarding his good behavior. For instance, whenever he allows you to handle his neck, head and ears, offer him both verbal praise and treats. Start by getting him used to your touch, then slowly introduce him to the halter and leave it on his head for a number of days in order for him to get used to it being on before you can start practicing how to take the halter on and off him.
Some Do’s & Don’ts
When halter-breaking your horse, avoid being angry with him, screaming at him, hitting him, throwing his halter, or other aggressive and unfriendly behavior towards him. Otherwise, you may end up making your horse view haltering as a scary exercise that he needs to start fighting against. When training your horse, never allow yourself to give up at any point. Be sure to end every lesson with some level of success, however little, even if it means to succeed in just getting the halter over his nose without him trying to escape.
Leading Your Horse
After you have succeeded in having the halter on his head, the next step involves training your horse in how to respond to the pressure that is going to be applied on it when he is being led. Begin this process by attaching a lead rope to the halter, standing to his right and applying some pressure on the lead rope by pulling it to the right. If the horse responds by turning his head towards you, praise him and then do the same thing to his left. Similarly, train him to step forward and backwards when pressure is applied to the halter. Release the halter when he responds positively by moving towards the direction being led to move. Repeat these steps, rewarding him with treats and praises every time he behaves appropriately, until this process becomes a daily routine for him.
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