I know people ride quite successfully in those type of rope halters but for me they look as if they'd move about too much on the horses face to be really comfortable
OK if you have a horse that's really well trained to stop and turn at the slightest touch and more responsive to leg and body cues/aids than the reins
Here is the problem with (and the strength of) rope halters:
If your horse is calm and willing to listen, it does fine. If your horse decides to rebel, you don't have much there to help you. You also have very little finesse in communication. It is pretty hard to use a tool like this to communicate "Tip your nose inside the turn", or "Keep this speed, but don't extend your front feet so far". It is fine for "Turn left, turn right". It is very poor for "Stop".
OTOH, there are horses who do fine riding down a trail in something like this. It also works well for a good horse if the rider needs to learn soft hands. It is a very forgiving set-up. I won't shame myself by once again posting a picture of me cantering on Trooper for my first time ever, and his first time in 2 years...but I used the halter from the picture above, and am glad I did. However, in a ride where Mia repeatedly bolted, I ended up removing a lot of hair from her face...
Like so many things, it depends on the horse, the rider, and what the two are trying to do.
I actually had a halter I tied that went further up the nose because I felt I would get better communication there, but when he was opening his mouth it was rubbing. I was thinking I could get more finesse with it. But I dunno.... I suppose I'll need to figure out how to tie one that far up the nose that won't open up and ride up the horses face yet still allow him to open his mouth without any rubbing.
For keeping his nose tipped in while turning I've been using my inside leg/heel. I don't know about keeping the same speed but don't extend the legs too far..... I suppose I just haven't learned enough to do that one. And for stopping I just sit in the seat.....and everything comes to a complete halt.
I suppose that the groundwork translates to the saddle work.? But in all honesty I could be missing out on a lot by using just a rope halter. I really don't know at this moment. And maybe I never will..?.. I'm just a neophyte horseman and time will tell as to what I learn. I'm always open to learn and change opinions, as I still have LOTS to learn.
bsms - Pretty horse BTW. I like the coloring and patterns.
^^ That is the style I'm planing on getting. I was going to try making my own, but it was a little daunting and I had the feeling that I would fail miserably.
Quick question to those experienced in bitless though - I'm going this version because it seems most similar to how I ride now (with a halter and reins). Would a sidepull/bosal etc still work in the same way? It seems to be the nose pressure that he reacts to, and doesn't the sidepull (I think it's the sidepull) work off poll pressure? I'm quite a 'newbie' to this.
I used to ride with just a rope halter a lot, but now I use it mostly just on leisure trail rides. For schooling, I discovered just what bsms says - it lacks finesse. However, I know a couple of people, one of whom is a trainer, who state that you can do all those finesse things with a rope halter as well. I don't disagree, but an S hack was just more suitable for my horse and myself.
Tracer - I like that design. I think I'm going to try something like that on the next one. I like how it has that thicker braided noseband. And bsms already said it, but..... that works as a sidepull, and the poll is up between the ears. So you can visualise how if you pulled on one of those rings it would create a gap on that side and put pressure on the opposite side, without putting pressure on the poll.
Also because the throat knot is an actual knot, "and not a fiador", which won't come undone, the halter can only come up the horses face so far. If that knot was a fiador then you would pull the halter apart and it would end up over the horses eyes. LOL
And no I don't feel that a bosal nor a regular rope halter works in the same way. With those two pieces you would be attaching your reins down under the chin and when you go to pull on one rein it kinda puts pressure all around the horses nose. Whereas with the side pull you are creating a space of no pressure on one side and at the same time applying pressure on the opposite. It seemed that with the regular rope halter in my case that when I picked up one one rein the horse had to kinda move his nose around to figure out which side I was picking up on. But with the sidepull he knows instantly which side I'm picking up on.
Tying a rope halter is actually pretty simple and rope is fairly cheap, I say give it a try. For the cost of buying a rope halter I bought enough rope to make 3-4 of my own. Plus I was able to customise them to find the fit and function I like most. But after everything I've tried I feel that I'm going to tie one that's basically what you have pictured. I like the sidepull the most so far, and as of this far I have found it has not been necessary to have the noseband further down the horses nose like one would see on a bitted and bitless bridle.
And the one tip I have if you're going to tie your own.....follow the directions on that site I linked to and cut the rope to the length you need for your horse. I didn't do that twice and it took much longer to tie, plus it twisted the rope and now there's twists in the halter. And take notes so it will be easier for you to tie the next one if you have any changes in mind.
I just recently recieved my Buckaroo Leather, old style Cowboy, side pull! I love it! And most importantly, my 3 yr.old Peruvian Horses loves it and responds beautifully with it. No more head tossing and avoiding the bit. She is a happy girl on the trail now which makes me a happy rider which equals a good partnership! ;)