It may seem elementary, or even something some folks may laugh about, but haltering a horse can be quite intimidating for people new to the horse world. I can remember the first time I was actually sent out to catch my first horse…. well pony, I knew how to act around the pony but that darn web of nylon called a halter was about the most intimidating thing I had seen that day. The thing is “horse people” or people who have been around horses a lot in their life take things, like haltering a horse for granted. Often the most simple things are very trivial to new comers. So my job as a person who understands a lot about horses, is to help people with the little things, big things and just about anything that others need to learn to have a safe enjoyable time. I want you to want to ride, it’s keeping people ahorseback that makes our horse economy survive.
When haltering a horse it is important to have a good approach, we discussed a little bit about horse behaviour in a previous blog. I think it is important to understand horse behaviour before you go catching to many different horses. I will go through 12 simple steps to help you ensure an easy time catching your horse.
- Approach the horse in a calm manner, horses can sense nervousness so just act like it’s another day at the office.
- While approaching on the left side of the horse, have your hand out at a 45 degree angle from your body, just like you were walking to shake someones hand. This way when the horse sees you coming he senses you are coming to greet him and is not alarmed when you make a sudden movement with your arm from your side. Be smooth.
- Evaluate the horse, this will help you gage the amount of speed which you can use to put your hand on the horse.
- Lift your arm up and greet the horse with a rub on the neck or shoulder.
- Make sure the horse is comfortable in your presence.
- From the shoulder area, slide your arm up to the top of the horses neck.
- Moving forward, run your hand along the top of the horses neck (holding him with you if necessary) until you are near the head.
- With the halter in your left hand (halter should be in your hand ready to be put on, halter has noseband on the bottom and pole strap on the top)reach the pole strap up to your right hand (thats above the neck)from under the neck.
- Pole strap in right hand, nose band in left, gently slide the nose band up onto the horses nose as you cradle the horses head in your arms.
- Grab buckle with left hand and use right hand to slide the pole strap through the buckle.
- Do up the buckle, and always put the end of the pole strap in the keeper on the buckle.
- Lead your horse happily to where ever you need to go!
It is never a good idea to leave a halter on a horse for any period of time if the horse is turned out, a horse could get snagged on anything and be stranded for days. Also they can get sores under the nylon if worn for too long. I myself prefer nylon rope halters, they are great for colts and are very inexpensive. If you are in a training or boarding facility they are great as its not such a big deal when your halter goes missing, which often does happen!
I hope you learned more about how to properly catch a horse! There is many add ons to this 12 step program. You can modify it in ways that can teach your horse to actually put his head down into the halter, and many other tricks so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Until next time Cody McArthur