I agree with everyone else here. Halters should be left OFF if at all possible. There is always the risk of a horse getting caught on something and injuring themselves, even if they won't be unattended long, and even if they have a breakaway.
Last winter, when the weather was bad, my grandfather turned my mare out in the riding arena while my dad cleaned her stall. It was a chance to let her stretch her legs since the footing was not safe in her pasture. He left her halter on as he was planning to stay with her and watch her while her stall was being cleaned, and then bring her back in. Well, the bedding delivery truck came while he was watching my mare. He stepped away for less than five minutes to say something to the delivery truck driver, and in this time, my horse reached her head under the fence and got caught. She was wearing a breakaway but with the angle of her head and how she was caught, the crown piece didn't break. He returned to find her straining and struggling. She broke the piece of wood she was snagged on before my grandfather could try to help her. Luckily she was okay. Her face was tender for a week or so afterwards but no serious damage was done.
We all learned the hard way that it doesn't matter if you're nearby, or if the halter is only going to be on for a few minutes. If a horse can get themselves into trouble, they might find a way! It's not like the fence was in bad condition either. The arena fence was less than a year old at the time.
Also, consider the design of a breakaway halter. The horse has to be straining against the crown in order for the breakaway strap to break. If they are struggling side ways or if their head is pinned to the ground at an awkward angle, they won't be able to free themselves in a breakaway. Even if they do break the crown piece, consider the strength of that strap. A horse has to pull pretty darn hard to break that leather, and they can still injure themselves even if they do manage to free themselves.
If your horse is not totally wild, but just tough to halter, leave the halter off and confine her to a smaller turnout area until your horse gets used to being caught.
My horse used to be a pain in the butt to catch and now she's easy to catch. Here are a few tips that might help you get your horse to cooperate with being caught:
1) Don't always work your horse after catching her from the field. Sometimes just catch her and let her go again, or just bring her in for a grooming and let her go again.
2) Check the fit of your bit and saddle. If your horse is uncomfortable during her workouts, your horse may be less eager to be caught.
3) If possible, make sure all of the horses are brought inside to eat. If your horse doesn't allow herself to be caught, all the other horses come in and get fed, and she only gets to come in and eat when she cooperates. Food motivated horses will hate seeing the other horses get brought in and fed first and will quickly change their behavior.
4) If you are approaching your horse with the halter head on and raising it up to put it on, try a less aggressive approach. Approach your horse from the side of her neck. Put the lead rope over her neck so you have some control and put the halter on while you stand on her left side, facing forward. Use your right hand to bring the crown piece up over her ears and your left hand to guide the nose piece around her muzzle. Be gentle, speak kind words, and stay where your horse can see you.
5) Consistency is key! Keep working with your horse and be consistent! Don't give up and have patience! Your horse will learn to cooperate someday if you just hang in there!
Just going to add if your horse is the type that is approachable until they see the halter or lead you can simply wrap the halter and lead cris-cross around your body before you go into the pasture. They horse won't notice it and will simply think its your clothing. Then you can slip it off from your body around the horses neck while you get the halter on.
I will echo the sentiment not to leave a halter on in pasture or turn out.
I will NEVER keep a halter on my horse when they are turned out. It's too dangerous. I don't even trust breakaway halters.
Simply take the time to teach your horse to be caught.
Agreed with don't always work your horse when you catch them.
Also, keep them in a smaller enclosure (and not 20 acres) in the beginning. The idea is that you want to make them WORK and move their feet when they are not watching you with their eyes. When they look at you and give you their attention, STOP. Back up and leave them alone.
When your horse will consistently "give you their face" by looking at you, then you can try to approach them. Don't walk toward them with your shoulders square to them. That is confrontational. Instead, angle your shoulders to the side. Don't try to sneak closer. Just walk normally and relaxed as you normally would.
Too many people are in a big hurry to sneak the halter on when they get close enough. Don't make that mistake. You don't even need to be in a hurry to touch the horse. When they let you get near them, walk away again. You'll catch them faster because they will be curious.
A lot of this takes proper TIMING. But when done right, you can easily teach your horse to be caught. And there is no reason to leave the halter on.
Chris Cox had an excellent TV episode about this. I've tried to find it on the internet but I can't. He
If you have issues putting a halter on, just train the horse to accept the halter.
Treat it like you would a good exercise. Stay in the pasture (or, at first, in a round pen) and put the halter on and off and on again until it becomes easy. Every time the horse lets you halter him, offer treats and compliments.
Start with small things. The horse approaches you, treat. The horse smells the halter, treat. The horse lets you put it on the nose, treat. The more steps you take, the more the horse will be at ease with the whole process.
Never stop complimenting the horse when you catch him. Whatever you use to say "good boy", be it food snacks, click, voice, a pat on the neck, use it every time.
Oh and never in life punish the horse for not coming immediately. Doesn't matter if he just threw you on the ground and ran away for 2 miles, when the horse lets you catch him, he's always to be rewarded.
To me, I believe that if a horse is hard to catch, the worst thing you can do is just leave the halter on. In no way does this make the horse easier to catch, because the moment you take that halter off, they'll be just as difficult to catch as the last time. For me, the best way to teach a horse to be caught is to take the time, no matter how difficult, to catch the horse every day.
Not to mention, it can cause serious risk to your horse to leave the halter on. It can lead to serious injury if he catches his halter on anything.
This is why you don't leave a halter on. The horse got caught up on the fence while turned out.
I have seen a horse try to take the fence with them when they got stuck. My bf had to cut the halter off the filly before she broke something (or herself)
They can get legs stuck in them as well and then you have a leg injury on top of it. IF you really need to, buy a turnout halter, and replace the crown strap with leather (i would say thinn crap leather so in an emergency it will brake better).
The BO at the barn I bpard at had a halter on my horse to make it easier to catch him for the farrier if I can't be there and after seeing this picture, I went to the barn and told her that I wanted to take it off and she agreed as long as she can catch him. If she has issues catching him, I guess I'll get a breakaway halter or something or just be there everytime the farrier's there until I train him to be easier to catch. He walks up to me but has trust issues. After seeing that picture though, I wont halter my horse in the field or any of the horses ill own in the future.
I would definitely prefer to leave the halter off of a horse unless you have a very good reason. My horse wont have one on in the field most likely for the rest of his life except for if some odd event makes it required to leave one on him(I highly doubt this) When you go out to catch your horse, reward with a lot of petting and praise(you could give a treat but I just give treats at the end of a good ride) Also, my horse will ground die like 95% of the time so if he sees the rope over is neck or attached to a halter, he will stand. So you could try and teach your horse to ground tie so it will stand still when it sees the rope. Make leaving the field a positive experience for you and the horse.
You CAN buy all leather halters, see if you can find a used crap one IF,IF, your BO insists. With horses that are hard to catch I would hide the halter, walk up to them and put the lead around their neck. They realized they had been had and waited for the halter lol. There is also a quick catch halter you could try. You can find it on Chicks saddlery.
The way I got my mare used to being caught was food. I would bring her in to eat and I would give her praise and treats if she came with out me chasing her around for 30 min. She is now the easiest horse to get in the barn. I know alot of people don't like to use treats when training but it makes it a good experience for the horse. You can ween them off treats too.
My horses came to me being very easy to catch however I always saw other horses out in big pastures with their halters on so I thought it was customary to leave the halters on. The first time I did it I put the halters on and went in the house and just was nervous about it. I went to check on them about 20 minutes later and sure enough my guy's halter was stuck to the fence. He was a good boy and wasn't pulling at it but that was enough for me. No more halters on without supervision, ever.