Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: foothills of Virginia
This should be done in an arena or round pen or other smallish and confined area, unless you are well aquainted with your colt I wouldn't recommend this in a pasture. I like to get the foal familiar with the halter in a friendly way at first, rub it on him/her starting with thier withers, and rub away from the face at first, rubbing belly and hips and butt and legs kind of thing, then back to the withers. Then I start rubbing it on his front legs, neck, and slowly close to his ears. Let him sniff, and if he isn't too pushy over treats now would be a good time to give him one, scratch and love and spend a moment bonding, and leave. Do this again (but don't keep giving the treat) and start passing over the top of his head and move around his eyes and nose with it, rubbing his face (not hard or rough of course) with it, balled up. As he gets used to this, start to unball it and let him get used to it full size. Then, put it out where he must put his nose in it to get a treat. You can just hold the treat in your hand and your other had has the round part of the halter open so his nose will fit right in. Then, when he grabs the treat, you slide his nose into it. Then I slide it back off again (before having buckled it) and that is it for the day. Next time (or day) we get to that point, I slide it off, and while they are precoccupied munchin on the treat (give the treat again when they reach thru the halter to reach it) go ahead and slide beside them and buckle it. Then, leave them alone in it for awhile (at least 30 minutes) supervising but not doing anything (just watchin so they don't catch it on nuttin) and then when they are completely forgotten about it you walk up and (approaching them quietly and softly of course, you mite even preoccupy tem with another treat) you take it off. Do this until putting it on, buckling it are no big deal. Then, I would leave it on, and take the lead rope and just clip it to the halter. Give him plenty of the lead, try to avoid putting any pressure at al on the rope at this point. Stay with him, don't pull, he won't go far anyway, just probably swerve and try and outrun the snake that suddenly sprouted outta his jaw. Once he is settled with it, pet him and stroke him and remove the whole shebang. You wanna do this until he doesn't give any reisitance to either wearing the halter or seeing the lead rope coming from it.
To teach them to lead is another matter, but this will familiarize him with halter and eventually, lead. Be patient, don't set a goal, just have fun and let him get used to it in a friendly, playful type way. Treats are ok, but makes some horses pushy, if this is the case don't use food, just stand and scratch and become friends.
Know thyself, know thy horse.