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DbarH Equine Training. Natural Horsemanship
Medicine Lodge Valley, Dillon, Montana

Easy Haltering

"When you push and bang with your legs and haul your horse around in an effort to over come resistance, you will only throw your body around and upset the horse."

Sally Swift, Centered Riding, 1985

 To train a horse to halter for the first time, or one that doesn't like to be caught, or haltered or put it's head down while being haltered/bridled try the method I use.

I do prefer to use pellets, because you can keep a grip on it without the horse snatching it before your ready to give it to the horse. If the horse doesn't know what a pellet is it won't take long for him to figure out - hum this is good.

The first step is to get the horse to put his head under your arm. To do this get the horses attention by letting him sniff the pellet. Then put your arm to the side arched, and with the other hand you go under the arched arm and let the horse sniff the pellet again. Let him try to grab the pellet, but don't give it to him. Let him follow the pellet. When the horse gets some of his nose under the arched arm then you can give the horse the pellet. Then each time try to get his head to come under a little more under your arched arm. do this with out touching his head until you can go over his ears and swing past his neck back down to your side. It may awhile depending on the horse.

The next step is to begin to touch his head. When the horses eyes come under your arm begin to place your arm on his head just above the eyes. This is where the horse might start pulling away. But that's ok, because he knows there is a pellet past that arched arm. He'll come back. When you get your arm on his head for a couple second you can give him the pellet while your arm is on his fore head. Next you would put your arm on his fore head and sweep past his ears while touching them before he can pull away. Do it casually. Then give him the pellet. Keep doing this step until you can lay your arm right on his ears and he won't care. Sometimes doing this you can let the horse grab a hold of the pellet, but not giving it to him and he will want the pellet and you can touch his ears. Then give the pellet to him after you've rubbed him some. The more you do this the longer the horse will let you touch his ears.

Next step would be when he does go under your arm good and you can touch him then start to make that arch smaller and wrap your arm around his head so he will be right next to your torso. After he has gotten the hang of going under your arm with out hesitation you can go to the next step.

Now we introduce the halter. Use a halter with a throat latch snap. Leave the throat latch snap loose and the rest of the halter buckled. With your arm arched but closer to your torso, hold the halter in the arch arms hand and hold it on the top. The horse already knows to go under the arm so now he has one more wall to go under. Now just do the same with the crown strap. A little each time. Don't even think the nose piece is there right now. After you get the crown strap over his ears then you can start with the nose piece. Where the horse actually puts the whole halter on. They may hesitate, but again they know they get a pellet, because they did good. Remember do this close to your torso and this may take some time, but you will be so glad you taught the horse this.

When the horse knows that he gets a treat when "diving" in to the halter whenever he see the halter he will come right to you. Even in the field. When the horses see me with a halter they race to beat the other horses to get in the halter first. Sometimes two try to get in the halter a once. It just doesn't work though. Sometimes I wean the horse off the pellets when they are a pro a haltering. Do this gradually so it wont' be a shock that he didn't get a pellet.

Ok you may have a question or two. One might be why have the horses head close to your torso?? Well that is so he won't have his head way over where you can't get the halter on with out you moving to get it on. Another reason is the horse will have a lowered head and you can keep the head down and eventually just put your hand on the bridle path and put the horses head even on the ground. That will show that the horse is giving to you and letting them trust you.

More haltering situations 

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Body Position Articles

 

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Donna Hildreth 1998 - 2009
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