Getting a horse to actually LIKE the halter?

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Getting a horse to actually LIKE the halter?

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  • Horse doesnt want haltered
  • Horse doesn't want to be haltered

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    10-11-2009, 10:29 AM
Getting a horse to actually LIKE the halter?

My horse was a rescue and he is a tad headshy. He's fine with people touching his face with their hands, but if you touch him with anything else he runs away. My problem is this - he hates the halter. I got him okay with a fly mask, but when I go out to bring him in to ride, he avoids me. He'll put his head down when I scratch his ears, but when I try to slip it over his nose, he freaks out. Once it's on his nose though he's pretty okay with it.

What can I do to help him know that the halter isn't a BAD thing?
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    10-11-2009, 10:39 AM
Just keep practicing and make sure that you don't just put the halter on when you want him to work....he'll very quickly associate you coming with a halter and having to work, being trimmed/shod, etc.
Even with our mares that will put their nose right in the halter every time, every once in a while we'll just go out, put their halters on for a few hours, and then take them off when they're fed.
    10-11-2009, 01:21 PM
I agree with painthorsemares.
Maybe some days halter him then feed him then take the halter off. Other days put the halter on then do a feel good grooming then take the halter off. Other days just put on the halter and take off the halter until he is calm when you put it on and take it off.
Just go slow, calm, and repititious.
    10-11-2009, 01:28 PM
One of the babies I bought a few years ago was impossible to catch. The key is to teach him that being caught is associated with something good.

How do you do that? You feed him.

Somehow manage to catch him, praise him and feed him something he likes and put him in a round pen or a small area and repeat. Do it 3-4 times in a row, catch, feed, remove.

Work with him every day until he learns that being caught is actually fun. In thhat routine add, a good grooming or go out for a walk, do something he will enjoy. With time you can start to remove the feeding and stick to a grooming or something fun. He'll learn life can actually be quite enjoyable.

The baby I had went from not being catchable(AT ALL, not even get close to him), to running to you when you called him. It takes time and lots of love and patience on your end.
    10-11-2009, 03:37 PM
I agree with the others, make the halter a good thing :) With my appy when I first got him he was hard to catch. He would run away when I tried to put a halter on him. Once I got a good dose of knowledge, I learned it's not about the halter! It's about the relationship. So I did TONS of approach and retreat, and eventually he let me halter him. Then I'd take him out to graze or take him to his grain. Pretty soon he came running and then I was able to work him a little bit, let him graze, etc. I also wanted to make sure that he participated in the haltering process. I looked for him to offer to stick his nose in the halter and if he didn't, I did something to cause him to be more curious or comfortable. I did not just halter him anyway, that's just rude! Lol.
    10-11-2009, 04:08 PM
Well, your horse will not ever "like" a halter but hopefully he will "tolerate" it.

This is sacrilege I know, but a horse biscuit, when the halter is fitted might make him look forward to it a little more.

And once he has the halter on, make a fuss of him.
Tell him what a good chap he is.

And once you have caught him, don't necessarily rush immediately to walk back to the barn. Talk to him for a moment or two about his day. Then "ask" him to follow you - don't yank on the lead rein.

It is your relationship with the horse which counts.
Are you wearing the same clothes?
Have you put on some powerful perfume that he doesn't recognise?
Has he recognised your voice?
You must appear to be familiar.

The horse recognises you by: sound, smell, body language, walk, routine - he does not just rely on sight.

Familiarity is everything. Just be nice to him - every time.

And never ever get angry because he plays up - he can run a lot faster than you.

You have to work on it. If he likes you, then he will be pleased to see you. You have to make him like you.

If you can get close enough, then you could try a lead rein round his neck - but it is not the best option at this stage - he might start to keep his distance from you.

It is all a mind game and hopefully you have the better intelligence. But never ever get angry nor rough with the creature - he'll remember.

It is like fishing - you've just got to find the right bait.

    10-12-2009, 08:38 AM
Oh, I know he knows me. =) As soon as I walk about the house there's his big head hanging over the fence whinnying. He follows me around like a puppy dog. It's just when the halter comes out that he turns into a little... yeah.

Well, he doesn't get grain (he gains weight breathing air and doesn't get ridden very much) so would giving him a treat work? To get him used to it being put on and taken off we'll hold an apple underneath to encourage him to stick his nose in instead of forcing on his face. Or should we give him a treat after it's already on?
    10-12-2009, 08:55 AM
May be start with him putting a nose in halter. As long as he does that - take halter away, give a carrot, and pet. Then repeat again for like 5 times in row. When he'll be putting nose in halter himself proceed further (slide halter behind the ears). Just do it gradually - sounds like with him you just need lots of patience (and treats :) ).
    10-12-2009, 04:26 PM
Originally Posted by ShannonSevenfold    
Well, he doesn't get grain (he gains weight breathing air and doesn't get ridden very much) so would giving him a treat work? To get him used to it being put on and taken off we'll hold an apple underneath to encourage him to stick his nose in instead of forcing on his face. Or should we give him a treat after it's already on?
Rewards (after) are generally better than bribes (before).

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