The Right Fit
Make sure your horse's halter fits correctly.
September 20, 2015
From AQHA Professional Horsewoman and Certified Horsemanship Association trainer Julie Goodnight
Is your horse's halter too snug or too loose? Does it hang down around his nose or squeeze his face, rubbing the hair away? Do you fit a rope halter the same as a web halter? How do you know if your horse's halter fits or what size halter he should wear? These are all legitimate questions, and it is important to have a halter that fits your horse just right for his comfort and his safety.
Whether you use a rope, nylon or leather halter, the fit should be the same. The cheek rings of the web halter and the cheek knots of the rope halter should sit about one finger's width below the bottom of the cheek bone. If the noseband gets much lower, it could cause damage to the sensitive cartilage of the nose. The noseband should not fit snugly, but should not be so loose that your horse could get a hoof caught when he scratches his face with his foot. You should have at least two fingers’ width between the noseband and your horse's jaw.
Rope halters are a practical and inexpensive training tool. Find out how to create your own using AQHA's FREE How to Make a Rope Halter report!
Halters come in basic sizes: yearling, small horse (cob size), regular horse (most horses fit into this category), large horse (Warmblood or draft crosses), and draft and mule. The average horse typically wears a regular horse size; if your horse's head is very small and dished, he might need a small-horse size, but keep in mind that you do not want the halter to be tight and uncomfortable for your horse.
Rope halters can be a little trickier to fit correctly on the horse. When you put the rope halter on, be sure to pull the throat knot all the way up to the horse's throat, then tie it. This should place the cheek knots just below the cheek bones and keep the upper piece above his jowl, not going across it. If there is too much room in the noseband because your horse has a very refined head, you can loosen the fiador knot under the chin and work it up to tighten the noseband. Or you can use electrical tape to tape around the fiador knot to make the noseband smaller.
Have you ever wondered how to make a rope halter for your horse? Learn from the experts at Columbia Basin Knot Company with AQHA's FREE How to Make a Rope Halter report!
Horses should never be turned loose with a rope halter on because it is easier for them to get hung up, and rope halters will not break loose. If a horse must be turned out with a halter on, make sure it has a leather breakaway strap at the top so your horse can break safely away if he gets snagged.
When trailering your horse, make sure he is in a breakaway halter. Never trailer a horse in a rope halter. If your horse falls or you are in a wreck, you want him to break free. Most halters made for trailering are made of leather because they are more breakable. Most rope halters are made with climbing rope, which is not breakable. Also, you want your horse to be as comfortable as possible in the trailer and not pulling against the rope halter when he gets off balance.