Halter breaking tips please? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-11-2008, 02:23 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Halter breaking tips please?

I have just recently purchased a second horse. A snuggly two year old Missouri Fox Trotter gelding, 'Red'. He is a very people-friendly, curious, affectionate horse with only one vice: He's no longer halter broke.

He was fully halter broke as a foal, but now he simply refuses to wear a halter. When you attempt to put one on him, he will put his head up and out of reach and backs away. He has not had any bad experiences with halters or people with halters. He, basically, has just forgotten his manners (my other gelding, his half-brother, is also like this. You don't work with him for a while -a week- and he promptly throws his perfect saddle manners out the window. We're successfully correcting this issue though)

I have not attempted to confine him in a round pen to force the halter on him, as I fear he may end up injuring himself or me. Instead, all I have been doing is throughout the day, walking up to him in the pasture, halter and lead rope in full view over my shoulder. Gently, I will touch the halter and rope against his hindquarters, midsection, or even shoulder, talking to him a firm, encouraging tone all the while. Then, I will carefully move it up, let it brush against his legs, under his belly, moving up towards the neck and head area.
I do not put the halter or the lead rope on or around him, only rub it over him, letting him smell it and see it. He still is nervous about having it near his head, but this seems to be improving and he is (slowly) becoming more relaxed and confident about it.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions? Is there anything I'm possibly doing wrong? I'm taking this as slowly and as cautiously as possible to avoid any possible injury to either of us, and to (hopefully) encourage a more trusting bond.
Also, at the moment he is boarded about 30 minuets away in a neighboring town, I am only able to get out there every Saturday or Sunday so anything that I do goes at a snails pace. I understand that once a week is simply horrific, even more so that I'm taking it slow to begin with. But in a month or two both horses are going to be moved to five-minuets-away pasture and I'll be able to work with him daily. Hopefully, by then, I will be asking for lunging tips instead of halter-breaking ones

Thanks in advance,

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-11-2008, 04:00 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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If you have access to a round yard, i would suggest using Monty Roberts Join Up method. it has always worked great for me.

Alternatively, leave the halter at home and take a nice long lead rope. start out by rubbing it over him as you've been doing, and gently slip it over his neck. even back near his withers is fine for the time being. be sure to let the rope down VERY gently as a swinging rope can frighten a youngster. talk and pat and encourage. as he settles, slowly move the rope further up his neck until you can hold the other end of it, now that it is around his neck. i have done this dozens of times, and slow long as you do not try to actually hold him with it at this stage, all should be well. if he does pull away, simply let go of the rope that is on his other side and it was fall to the ground, without risk of you getting rope burn or him getting a nasty fright.
as he settles, move the rope further up his neck until it is resting behind his ears (this may take several goes) and gently lengthen the rope that is on his off side. now cross the rope over and pass it over his nose. (hard to explain) so you are basically making a drop halter. as it is not fastened to him in any way, if he does spook, simply let go of one end and the rope is all yours again. when he is standing quietly, give him a pat, tell him how big and brave he is and then let him go. if you do this a couple of times he should get the hang of things. once he's happy with the rope makeshift halter, you should be able to substitute it with a real halter quite easily.

The above method is what i use on ALL horses to halter break if i dont have the use of a round yard, otherwise its join up all the way.

hope this helps

PS. i forgot to add, please use a soft rope so that it is kinder to you and your horse. also, would love to see pix of your boy!

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post #3 of 4 Old 08-11-2008, 04:12 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Good advice! Sorry though, I can't help you, I have no idea when it comes to halter training! Good luck!

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post #4 of 4 Old 08-11-2008, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
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I think the approach you are using is a good one. Many times when I go out the pasture to bring in a horse I'll take a long lead line with me instead of a halter and use it to make a war bridle. I use the war bridle to bring him up to the barn.

Here is a video of someone making a war bridle from a lariat. http://www.extension.org/pages/Young..._Series_Part_2 What I would change in your situation is to use a long, soft lead line and lay it over his neck then attach the snap to the line making it into a noose. Then follow the rest of the directions in the video. If your horse reacts badly just let go. I like the use of the soft line because it is much easier on the horse. I've never had a negative reaction using the war bridle with a soft line.

The other thing I would do differently then the video is to double the line under his jaw so that it does not tighten. At first I would allow your horse to walk around with you holding the lead line but not trying to direct him. Little by little I would start to take control of his movement until he is coming willingly.

If you have a round pen to work in that is the best place to do it because he will not be distracted by the pasture. A large stall is good also but you need to be much more cautious in a confined area.

Hope that helps.

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