Halter help

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Jun 10, 2004
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Madison, MN.
My horse does not like halters, It is really tough getting one on her. Is there an easier way to do this, short of tying her to the barn so she can't run away.
Why doesn't she like them? Are you putting them on too tight so it's uncomfortable? Or does she not like them because you put one on prior to catching / riding her?

If it's the latter, I would leave a well fitting halter on her at all times. Some horses feel they are "free" without one, and don't like to be caught
Thanks for responding guys, my wife won the horse in a raffle and the owners said that she had been handled often, WRONG, she's hardly been handled at all. we did have one on her but she rip it off. It fit well no sores from it or anything. She will let me touch her ears and stuff, but as soon as the halter appears she's gone. She's half arabian and half paint does this make a difference? thanks Kev
Kev":1pvgds1r said:
Thanks for responding guys, my wife won the horse in a raffle and the owners said that she had been handled often, WRONG, she's hardly been handled at all. we did have one on her but she rip it off. It fit well no sores from it or anything. She will let me touch her ears and stuff, but as soon as the halter appears she's gone. She's half arabian and half paint does this make a difference? thanks Kev

This scenario sounds pretty familiar. Sounds like you have a horse that associates the halter with work (i.e being ridden, lounged, etc.). I would suggest that you have the halter with you everytime you feed. If the horse wants to eat, then make it come to you and allow you to put halter on. If you can walk up to it in the pasture, go out as much as possible and catch the horse and put halter on. Each time you get the halter on, wheter at feed time or in the pasture, just spend time with the horse rubbing and reassuring it, then turn it loose. After a while the horse should let you catch it just about anytime because the don't associate you and the halter with work.

As far as leaving a halter on all the time, I don't really like that idea because a horse can get it hung up in a fence or countless other things.
Sounds like you kinda have the same problem. I have an arabian mare that as soon as you take the halter off she runs away-say you were taking the halter off to put on the bridle/hackamore. I've found to put your arm around her & put her in a corner and put it on as fast as you can works for me but then there is always the head- she puts her head up way high. Try putting a collar on her while you change they have them in horse catologs now. Or if she is in a small pasture leave the halter on.
Ellie May
Thanks Ellie,
For posting your advice, i'll give it a try and thanks to the rest of youalso for your help.
Whatever you do, don't leave the halter on her out in the pasture. Everytime that I see horses out in pasture with halters on, I cringe. It's possible that the incident of breaking off the last halter has justified her reaction to wearing one.
I would approach her often with a short rope and work on desensitizing her to that, as well as sacking her out with your hands and the rope. I'd take a treat that I wouldn't feed her from my hands and make my visits short and pleasant and leave her thinking..."Gee, that wasn't so bad." Once she is used to the rope being all over her, then I'd fashion it like a halter or just around her neck, then release her. Once she realizes that this thing can go on and off and its no big deal, she'll relax. Then try the halter. If you put the halter on your shoulder and make it part of you, she won't be wise to it as you approach her. Rub on her head and her ears and just slip the halter on in one motion...keeping it as no big deal, but always remove it before you leave her. Lots of positive visits, and sacking out. You don't have to restrain her to work on her either. You can go out with a brush or fly spray and challenge yourself to work with her without restraint, the goal being not to make her feel that she has to move away from you. Good luck.
my wife won the horse in a raffle

That's should have been your first warning, be careful of this horse, she may be dangerous. I would have an experienced training ride her for the first time to see how she is. You don't want a horse that will buck everyone off or flip over on you.

I agree with a couple of other post...do not leave a halter on her, that is vet bills waiting to happen.

TXBobcat gave you some great advice I would start there. You might also take a lead rope with you and while you are rubbing her neck and withers drop the rope over the top of her neck and hold both ends. Put a little pressure on the rope just to let her know she is caught, not try to pull her around, although thats where you want to work her up to.[/quote]
The horse needs to learn three things - lower her head to your request (clear to the ground if you ask it to by using poll pressure with your fingers - the key is to RELEASE the pressure the instant she gives any hint of lowering her head - slow but firm steps), flex (tuck) her nose in to your request as her head is lowered, and relax and flex (turn) her head toward you (with her nose tucked) when you are standing at the shoulder. Now, that's a simplified and quick description, but if the horse learns these three steps, you will have a much safer horse that is easy to halter. Once you are making progress with these three steps, make a point of removing the halter extremely slowly - make sure you can barely see motion as you lower the halter from her head. The horse will begin to lower her head as she follows the halter in anticipation of having you completely remove the halter. In reverse, she will also automatically begin to lower her head to put her nose into the halter once you have perfected the ultra slow removal of the halter. Sometimes I take a full 2 minutes to remove a halter when first teaching this to a horse. If the horse raises its head up, refasten the halter & get the horse to lower its head again in anticipation of having the halter removed then start the slow removal process all over again.

To be honest, it took me 2 years of watching my trainer friend work with young horses, haltering and bridling. before I finally figured out how she teaches horses to drop their heads and actually try and put their own noses in a halter.

My husband's Morgan will follow him all over the corral trying to put his nose into a halter my husband is carrying. The Morgan is actually insulted if my husband catches another horse and halters it instead. It's pretty funny to watch.

If the horse is lowering its head, but not tucking its nose, it is only pretending to yield to you. Tucking the nose with the head lowered indicates true submission. Yielding the head toward you, with the head lowered and nose tucked, while you are standing at the shoulder is a further indication of submission. Step by step, and always use pressure with RELEASE as the reward. Without instant reward (i.e., release of pressure) the horse has no reason to learn the step. This will all take patience and persistence, but the rewards for you and for your horse are immense.

I have also been taught by our trainer to keep my arm over the horse's neck as the halter is released. Not in an effort to muscle the horse - you can't win that kind of contest. I keep my arm lightly over the horse's neck, lower the halter all the way to the ground extremely slowly, talking & quietly encouraging the horse verbally, when the halter is off the nose let it slowly and gently fall to the ground, and make sure the horse continues to tuck its nose using pressure and release with your left hand. Praise the horse, stroke it on its neck with your right hand if you're standing on the left, and gently remove your hands - ONLY when the horse stands with its head lowered and nose tucked. The point of this exercise? When you do this properly, the horse will always amble away instead of suddenly taking off and possibly kicking you or knocking you over. My friend the trainer learned to do this when one of her horses whirled and broke her nose when she turned it loose the instant the halter was loose. My friend was just a teen when this happened, but she devised the above method to decrease the chances of the same thing ever happening again. This really works and I use the method with all of our horses, including my Arab. At first, the horse may decide to test you and try and whirl and run. If you hang onto the horse's neck and face for a few seconds, the horse will stop. Praise her! If the horse does not stop, you need to go back to your basic round pen training until the horse shows respect for humans as the leaders of its "herd."

Ellie May, I have to disagree with you about putting the halter on the horse as fast as possible. Slow deliberate movements are much more effective, but you have to do your groundwork before you can do any of this. Putting a horse in a corner only adds to the feeling that it is trapped, and you'll not get as much cooperation from the horse as you will with the groundwork.

Take time to put the halter on, take it off, praise the horse, put the halter on, take it off, praise the horse, etc. Don't tie the horse up, or work it - just teach it the halter isn't necessarily a bad thing, and that having it on doesn't automatically mean work for the horse. It's kind of like the first time you saddle and get on a young horse. That horse doesn't automatically know you aren't going to stay attached to its back forever. You have to get on and off several times to teach it to relax and let it learn you won't necessarily stay on its back permanently.

We have a Saddlebred mare we bought at age 8 from friends. This mare has a very, very strong flight instinct. I know her background and her training - she had never been worked in a round pen. She could never be caught before we bought her without using a bucket of grain, and she would whirl and run, as well as unexpectedly pull back sometimes when tied. Using the above methods, along with groundwork in the round pen took a few weeks, but she is now easy to walk up to and halter (I've never used grain to catch her), lowers her head and puts it into the halter, and no longer whirls and runs. She seems to have an area of comfort when tied to the trailer and does not pull back if tied near the back. Tied near the front and she occasionally has small panic attacks. Not ideal, but I will continue to work with her on this.

Good luck to all of you. I hope some of these ideas help.
I fully agree with Linda. Your horse needs to not be on the defensive, which it is now. You need to earn her trust and retrain her. It will take awhile, but what you learn from this horse and this exercise will stand you in good stead the rest of your life. It will take patience. What you will have done is 'made the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy." And remember horses can't tell time, so don't attempt this when you have to be somewhere. Make sure you have plenty of time. The people who caused this problem should be ashamed. It is a people-problem, not a horse problem. I say that because the horse is fine doing what it wants to do, when you want it to do what you want it to, it becomes a people problem. People caused it and people can fix it...the ''right people that is. I hope you are one of the 'right' people. Good luck to you. Horses are 'victims' of those that own them
The only things I can think of to add to TxBobcat's and Linda's excellent advise is to just remeber a couple of things. Both of which TxBobcat and Linda touched on. 1st, horses learn from "the release of pressure". 2nd horses always seek and remimber the lowest psycological pressure path. So by just setting up situations where the wrong choice/action by the horse results in slightly increased psycological pressure, and the right choice/action results in removal of the pressure the horse will pretty much train itself. At least thats what I keep telling myself :lol:

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