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Hi everyone, following on from a previous post the wild stallion I’m working with that we have been having issues with is doing a lot better. Some background for anyone who hasn’t read, he’s completely wild and unhandled and in a stall on vet advice due to a hock injury. He got a fright and kicked me last weekend putting me out of action and I was worrying about what to do with him in the meantime.
He has settled a lot and we’ve been getting other people to interact with him a bit more so he is getting a little more used to other people. Still no luck with anyone else being able to clean the stable or go in with him so I’ve been doing that. I’ve also started trying to get him used to the halter, I’ve watched quite a few mustang videos and a lot of them suggest feeding him through the halter so he has to put his head down into it and gets used to it that way.
I’ve been doing this for a few days (from the entrance of the stall I don’t go in while I’m still on crutches except to clean the stable using the devider) and he’s quite good with it but I’m not sure how to proceed with getting it actually over his ears.

Are there any other ways to introduce a halter? Is there a specific technique that might be more likely to work? At the moment I just hold the halter low with a big handful of hay in the nose part so he has to lower his head and put it through the top part and into the nose part to eat the hay. He’s good with this but pulls his head back if I try to move it over his ears.

Any suggestions really welcome!
Our little guy today

Horse Eye Working animal Liver Stable
 

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Hi everyone, following on from a previous post the wild stallion I’m working with that we have been having issues with is doing a lot better. Some background for anyone who hasn’t read, he’s completely wild and unhandled and in a stall on vet advice due to a hock injury. He got a fright and kicked me last weekend putting me out of action and I was worrying about what to do with him in the meantime.
He has settled a lot and we’ve been getting other people to interact with him a bit more so he is getting a little more used to other people. Still no luck with anyone else being able to clean the stable or go in with him so I’ve been doing that. I’ve also started trying to get him used to the halter, I’ve watched quite a few mustang videos and a lot of them suggest feeding him through the halter so he has to put his head down into it and gets used to it that way.
I’ve been doing this for a few days (from the entrance of the stall I don’t go in while I’m still on crutches except to clean the stable using the devider) and he’s quite good with it but I’m not sure how to proceed with getting it actually over his ears.

Are there any other ways to introduce a halter? Is there a specific technique that might be more likely to work? At the moment I just hold the halter low with a big handful of hay in the nose part so he has to lower his head and put it through the top part and into the nose part to eat the hay. He’s good with this but pulls his head back if I try to move it over his ears.

Any suggestions really welcome!
Our little guy today

View attachment 1118676
He is stunning, first of all!
When training a horse to first accept the halter, especially a horse who has lived most of their life not with one on, it is always good to take small steps. If you have got it over his nose, great job! But don't immediately progress straight away. Do this for at least a couple more days and then move on according to how he reacts having it over his nose. Another note for when he is wearing it, jiggle it over his nose just to get him use to it moving around.
What kind of halter are you using?
If you want to get the halter over his ears, try to get him use to stuff touching his ears, whether it is your hand or something else. Once he accepts that, try putting the halter over his ears. However, I would recommend waiting until you get better so you can make a quick escape if he startles.
While getting him use to stuff touching his ears, still get him to eat through his halter so he doesn't forget.

I hope you get better soon and I hope this helps!
 

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Is that tin on the wall? If so, that would scare me to death. One kick, he puts a foot thru that (which they can easily do), and he's apt to cut it off.
I would have him in a small corral. Start with working with a stock whip, it's an extension of your arm. Reach out and touch him everywhere. Your sessions with him will be about 10 minutes at a time. Leave when he's done it right, let him win. Don't keep grinding till he's done it wrong, he's frustrated, and so are you. Let him win. That way, he's looking forward to your next session.
If he turns his rump to you, ask him with the whip to turn around, if he kicks, burn that foot! Be consistent with this, his turning his rump to you is NOT allowed. If your corral is square, they tend to want to hide in a corner, keep tapping his rump till he brings his head up, and turns around.
When you do approach him, go to his shoulder, it's a nonconfrontational area to a horse. Get to where you an touch his shoulder, rub on him. Your idea is to do this as a reward. Gradually work your way to where you can go up his neck and touch his head.

Hang the halter and lead on the corral bars. Let him investigate it on his own time. Then when you bring it to him, it's not a big deal, he's already checked it out. Rub it on his shoulder, neck, back etc. Do this till it's not a big deal. Work both sides of the horse.

Take the strap of the halter and as you go, slip it up on the other side of his head. To some, this is a big deal, to others, not so much. What will get some if your bringing your other hand up. Keep on rubbing him with the halter, strap, and your other hand. As you can, reach for his nose with the halter. Some will not be a big deal, others will, it just depends on the horse. Take your time. Don't try to push it or you will set yourself back and have to start much of it all over.

Once you get the halter on him, BECAREFUL of either the tie or buckle!! it's a good way to lose a thumb! An easy way to lose a thumb! Get it set where you want to leave it. I always left the halter on, as well as the lead rope, on my weanlings. Those lead ropes have a lot of lessons they can teach a colt just by being there. I never had one hurt by it.

Once it's on, continue to rub on him, talk to him while you're doing all this. Then, leave, let him investigate things.
The next session, having the rope on him makes him easier to catch. If you've done the part about not letting him turn his rump to you, he will head up to you. This makes life both easier and safer.

I have halter broke a lot of 2 and 3 year olds. What I have described to you is called "whip breaking". Bad name, but it's a good process. It gets the colt to face up to you, and to protect their rumps. Makes life MUCH easier, and keeps you much safer.
Edited to add, the 2 and 3 year olds that I halter broke had not been handled either except for branding and gelding. Other than that, they were untouched.
 

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My grandfather’s cousin used to get feral youngsters from the UK New Forest round up sales and I spent a lot of time around them as a young teen and later worked for someone who did the same.
We bought several untouched horses ourselves.

The first thing you need to do with that horse is to get a vet out with a tranquilizer gun and get him castrated.

It will make a huge difference to his attitude.

I never introduce handfuls of hay into a halter breaking lesson. It’s unnecessary.

If the horse has learnt what a treat is, then by all means keep some in your pocket as a reward with rules.

Don’t even think about getting a halter on until the horse is comfortable with you touching its head and around the poll.

Don’t use a halter that has to be pulled over the ears, buy a soft breakaway style European style halter that has a strap that you pass behind the ears and fastens to the other side with a buckle.

 

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I've mentioned my concerns already about safety. Something you should always remember is that you are handling a stallion, who will have a much lower threshold for aggression toward you than other horses. He may choose fight over flight very easily.

From my recent experience with my own unhandled horse. People on the forum were very helpful with advice.
Getting a halter on is not such a primary goal, because it doesn't help you as much as you'd think. When we picked up my horse, we had to get a halter on to put her into a trailer. Just getting it on is not helpful, because the horse does not lead or give to pressure yet, is afraid of ropes, and if you have any concern for safety you will only leave a breakaway type on. So even though we had a halter on her the first day, it took quite some time to be able to put a halter on and take it off.

I wanted to leave a leather halter on that would break away, but my horse rubbed her skin raw trying to get it off, and so that idea didn't work. That is why I ended up getting the breakaway collar, which worked great. Once it was on, I was able to keep a lead rope attached, and she taught herself to give to pressure by stepping on the end, and also I could get the end of the lead to get close and get her used to the feeling of ropes going over her head, her ears, and nose, and those are first steps to putting a halter on and off.

Horses don't like to be tricked, and I did not have any success with feeding through the halter and getting her used to it that way. What I had to do was put the collar on, then get her used to being handled and touched with my hand on her face and all over her ears, followed by the ropes. We practiced putting her nose in and out of the halter. Then we practiced having my arm around her head in various ways on both sides (a different skill). Then we practiced having the rope come up over her poll, and finally attaching the halter. But before attaching the halter we worked on putting it on and off many times.

Having a lead rope on allows you to teach the horse many things. You can put a slight amount of pressure on them with objects they are worried about, and keep them from running off too far, but also you can give them the ability to move away which is very important. If you force a horse to stand closer than they feel comfortable with, and force them to tolerate things they are very frightened of, you may go over their fear threshold and they may go into the "fight, flight or freeze" mode. Having a horse freeze is no more helpful than having them bite you or run away, because they are not thinking and learning, their adrenaline is too high. So they will not make progress with accepting the things you want them to adapt to.

For my pony, we were able to get close to her in a small corral and touch her. But I did not get her over the fear of ropes before putting her into a large space. That meant I could touch her and pet her in a big field, and she would come to me, but I could not touch her with a rope or catch her. So I had to put her back into a smaller corral, get the collar and lead rope on her, and then adapt her to getting caught and touched with ropes in that smaller space. Once she was completely over her fear of being haltered and having ropes on her, then I was able to turn her out in a big field again. That took about a couple weeks if I remember correctly.
This is the type of collar I used, from Two Horse tack.

Be aware that just because you are putting ropes all over a horse when he is trapped, it does not mean he will tolerate them in the future. If he is fearful and shut down, he will not learn to accept them. If he will tolerate ropes on his body when he is in a larger space with the ability to run away, while standing still and being calm, then you know he has accepted them.
 

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Just a quick note I'm associated with a rescue that's taken quite a few unhandled or improperly handled Mustangs. Discovered over summer light fly masks have really helped to desensitize to touch on face and they mostly liked having them on, then enjoyed people itching sweaty spots. Two months ago I could only touch Roman's nose and only trainer could get halter on. Now I can touch side & flank and I only see him every other week or so.
 

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I don’t like the idea of getting him haltered in that stall. If he were mine I would get him in the round corral, rope him, and put the halter on there. We have a safety system to tie a horse who isn’t halter broken and isn’t handled, and then we leave them tied for a couple of days, feeding them and bringing them water there.

We can get them used to handling, and when we untie them we leave the halter with a shorter rope dragging for a few days. This is until we can easily halter and unhalter them, and lead them.

Yet, if you don’t have the experience to do so, or someone with it to help you, it probably isn’t a good idea to tie him and do it our way. Still, I would personally leave the halter on for a week or so. There are risks with leaving a halter on of course, but there is a big benefit with a completely unhandled horse to getting them to a certain point.
 
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