I'm interested in hearing about everyones method of halter breaking, or some methods you've seen. Why do you like them? Why dont you?
Everything changes from one foal to another, but what I try to go by is:
a) Getting the foal used to me - scratching it (everywhere I can), feeding, spending time with it. I do this until the foal COMES to me.
b) Introducing the halter, ropes, saddles, anything really. It seems to keep them curious. This doesn't take long for them to get used to. Normally a week at the most.
c) Then I work on rubbing them with the halter and getting them used to the buckle. Normally takes a day or two.
d) Next I put the halter on. By now everything is fun to them so there ok with it. I put it on and take it off again. Normally there trying to eat it during this. Then I do this for a couple days.
e) By now I can easily put the halter on, so I work on pressure and release with bending and leading for 2 weeks. Until the understand quite well.
f) Then I tie them up to something that wont break. I start for only a few minutes and work my way up.
I've never had a horse that was over 3 months and not leading like a little champ:)
For clients I:
a) get the halter on and off a bunch of times
b) add pressure, wait for the step, then release. Until they get it.
c) once they understand what I want I sometimes use a butt rope, or pony them.
One method I dont like:
a) catch them
b) let them loose for a week with a halter and rope on. It makes them really still, and prevents them from becoming soft.
It's not training. It's breaking.
Your method sounds great,
I've never dealt with a foal, when I got my gelding as a two year old the only thing he would do was lead, and sometimes not even that. I consider a horse only to be fully halter broken when they come off all kinds of pressure, back up, turn on forehand and haunches, etc, with little or no lead contact. As well, when it will walk over and through anything you ask.
I taught my horse to stay while being haltered out in the field from chasing him, when approaching, if he took off or walked away from me I'd make him go, then wait for him to stop and approach again, and we would do that until he gave in.
Most of my horses have come to me halterbroke, but when I got my yearling she'd never even worn a halter- she was wild. When she was in the trailer I climbed in and haltered her, put a 20 foot drag line on her and turned her into the corral. She stepped on the rope, tripped herself and learned to yield to pressure. It isn't perfect but it did work, and worked well. I had to fine tune it, but she is a very soft and gentle coming 2 yr old now.
The only method I know is that of my previous trainer: He would take mares in and let them give birth at his barn, then give them back to their owners, so when the time came for the mare and foal to leave (not even a day after the foal's birth), he would just put the halter on and lead the mare and foal together. And it never really bothered the baby. They just followed the mother. After that, the foals never really had any qualms with the halters.
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