Approaching and Haltering a Horse
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Approaching and Haltering a Horse

August 22, 2019


Alright, we’re going to talk about approaching
and putting a halter on this horse. One of the things I like to do here at Michigan State
University is I buy these halters without a lot of snaps and buckles on them. One, I
find that they last longer. Two, I like to discourage our students from putting the halter
on by going over the horse’s ears. I know it’s a very common way to halter, but it becomes
problematic for us as I have so many students haltering so many horses that the halter is not assigned
to a horse. They might be putting a halter that’s adjusted to small on a horse and pulling
it over the ears and causing some ear issues. We’ll talk about how we like to halter
horses here. So, just some basic guidelines is that you want to make sure you’re approaching
at the shoulder of the horse – between the head and the shoulder. The neck is okay too
but avoid approaching the horse from directly because the horse can’t see you. If you have
no choice but to go to the hindquarter of the horse to approach it, making sure that
you’ve said something to this horse, she’s recognized the horse has turned its head and
acknowledged that you are there before you actually just get so close they can go ahead
and kick you as that can cause some problems. So this horse has got her head down – I’m
going to walk up and I’m going to kind of just push her over a little bit, get myself
in a safer position to halter. Now, when I teach folks to halter I like to have them
approach the left side, take their right hand and go over the horse’s neck, grab the crown
piece of the halter, and scoop the horse’s nose up and then buckle this halter completely.
Taking this halter, making sure that again, we look at the facial bone right here – we’re
about two fingers below that – and that none of the parts of the halter are overly tight.
Now, the reason I like to halter in this manner is that if this horse is wanting to walk away
from me – our broodmares are like that – that I actually have a way to control where this
horse is going. If I’m catching a horse in a pen and I’ve got other horses around, that
if I need to move the horse out of the way, I’ve got a way to do that. If I haltered the
horse in this manner, I don’t have the ability to do that. She could easily duck out of the
halter and then flipping this crown piece over all the time – and you kind of saw how
taht slapped her on the neck – with some horses it’s going to be a turn off and they’re not
going to want you to catch them. So, again, I like to walk up, put my hand on their neck,
let them know I’m here, take my right hand, reach over the neck, grab the crown piece
of the halter, scoop their neck up, and then buckle. I don’t use the lead rope around their
neck very often to catch them as this now becomes difficult for me – who can hardly
chew gum and walk – because now I’m holding the rope around her neck and then I’m trying
to fiddle with the halter. So I like this technique that I just demonstrated to you
because I can do this in one smooth type of movement. And it does take a little practice.
And the horses here at MSU, many of them will just – once they see the nose band – they’ll
just kind of scoop their nose right up into it. So it becomes a very safe way to halter.

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  1. My teacher taught me all the ways you said how to not do it!! I have a practical exam next week and haltering a horse is included on it so now I will be confused.. But your way does seem more logical although!

  2. I was told to go halter my school school. He was eating. Ooh my, for a newbie like me I was a joke to him. I tried to hand feed him for him to lift his head up, I kept trying to lift his head. I spent a good 30 minutes with this horse. I wanted to cry. A girl that works on the barn told me I had the wrong horse. Whoops. I cried inside. I embarrassedly walked to the correct horse. SHE gracefully let me halter her. Wow, but I sure played the stupid role to a T.

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