Horse Halters are a common type of bitless headgear used on a horse. They are most commonly used by a person on the ground leading or directing a horse’s movement or for tying him. A halter is preferred for tying because bridles are usually made of more expensive and lighter materials (which can break) and have a bit that can cause harm if a horse panics, rears up, falls or fights the tie-out.
You might think that purchasing a halter would be an easy task, but there are some considerations:
Is your horse well trained to lead and tie? What materials stand up to the work requirements? Will you leave it on or use it only for tacking? Are there special features?
For the untrained horse:
Some trainers feel that rope halters give more control, as they are thinner and exert more pressure on the poll when a horse fights his confinement. Many trainers also use rope halters that have strategically-placed knots on the nose that pressure the sensitive area on the top of the horse’s face when he exerts power against the halter.
For the trained horse:
Web halters are wider, have less leverage and are more attractive. They are the halter of choice for most individual horse owners whose horses are already well trained.
The material and configurations are different. There are halters (usually cheaper) made from polypropylene webbing. These are usually the bottom of the quality ladder, single layer and prone to not last very long. Nylon is by far a better quality material. Some halters have chrome or brass eyelets that are stronger and will last longer than halters with just pressed eyelets. Top quality horse halters have double-layers or even triple-layers with heavy-duty stitching AND brass eyelets. The extra money is usually worth it.
And, last-but-not-least, there are halters with side-snaps to make putting it on and taking off easy and fast.
For the pastured horse:
Some horse owners leave a halter on at all times, risking an injury if a horse is snagged or caught by the halter in a pasture when unattended. A better solution might be a break-away halter that will break loose in a panic situation before injury is caused to the animal. Breakaways have head bands of thin leather – heavy enough to allow you to control your trained horse, but light enough to break in a stronger situation.
Whether you tie a horse with a breakaway type of halter or a sturdy halter that will not release unless purposely released by the handler depends on which is the greater danger: panic injury or disappearance and possible injury to the animal if loose.
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