I am 13 years old and have a 2 year old quarter horse that will be 3 soon. I haven’t done much with him yet and he is kind of shy. He is very calm and has never spooked on me.
I am trying to halter break him. I need some help here… I started with this last year sort of just getting him used to the halter being around. Its not a rope halter. I don’t think our town’s tack shop sells them, but my mom has a friend who makes them so I could get one if absolutely necessary. Just wondering how to halter break him.
We don’t own the place we keep him but there are no other horses there besides my other horse Snowball. There is a round pen and 4 pastures and a few smaller sections.
Anyway’s, just wondering the best way to get him halter broke.
-Hunter B. from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, Canada
Thanks for your email. I recommend that you seek the help of a professional Natural Horsemanship Trainer in your area. Halter training a young, strong, shy horse is going to be hard and I want you to be safe.
Here are some things that you can do though.
First you need to be able to rub your horse all over his body and him not be afraid. Can you do this? If so, next take the halter and rub it all over his body like a brush. When you can do this, while he is in a safe place like your round pen put the flat nylon halter on him with no lead rope and let him wear it for an hour or so under your supervision, never leave him alone with it on. Here is an article I wrote that might help you also.
When your horse gets comfortable with the halter being rubbed on him and put on his head and wearing it, then you can go to the next step. You will also want to teach him how to respond to poll pressure, he needs to learn how to respond to that before you put a lead line on him. The poll is right behind his ears and where the halter goes over his head. So take your hand and rub on his poll, when he is comfortable with this, gently push down on his poll. What you want is for him to put his head down. He will probably put his head up, so just keep light pressure on his poll until he puts his head down, even if it is just a little, then release the pressure ( that is his reward, the release ) and rub him on his poll and then start again. Get him to where you can lower his head down to the ground when you put pressure on his poll.
Next get yourself a rope halter with a 12’ or longer lead. Here is a link of our halters for sale:
One thing you want to make sure of when buying your halters is that they are made out of Yachting braid rope. This kind of rope is way less likely to give you a rope burn should your horse get scared and start pulling on you. Also they are very soft, not stiff. If they are stiff they will be more severe.
Now put your rope halter on your horse and slowly step to the side of your horse and gently pull on the rope, just keep a soft pull on the rope don’t tug and release and tug again, keep a soft steady pull. By stepping to his side you are going to be more likely to get his feet moving rather than trying to pull him straight forward. Also when trying to pull them straight forward right away the horses will panic and pull back and then leap forward and could run you over. Once you get his feet moving just walk around the round pen and if he keeps following you, great, if not you will step to either side and get his feet loose again. Once you have done this for a few days or more, than start to ask him to come to you by softly and slowly pulling him into you straight forward. Keep a soft and steady pull until he takes a step forward, then release the rope (that is his reward, release) and then start softly pulling again. Do this over and over again until he understands the pressure.
You also want to be doing all of this with your long rope standing half way out your rope or more, not right up at the halter. That way if he gets afraid and starts to panic you will not be in the kick or strike zone.
The next thing that you want to do now that your horse is doing good responding to pressure off of the lead line, is he needs to learn how to back up when you wiggle the rope side to side. This is a major safety move so that your horse learns how to get out of your space and not run over you. Here is an article that talks about this and how to teach your horse how to do it.
Once your horse understand how to back away from you, back him all the way out to the end of your lead line and then softly pull him back in to you. When he is doing this really well, not pulling on you when you ask him to go forward and backing nicely, now you are ready to lead him around outside of the round pen.
Thanks for the question and I hope this will help you and your horse.