How to Halter a Horse
Also covered in this article to a lesser extent: Catching your horse, stall manners, head shyness
I was in a great mood this morning; all was right with the world. Then I spent twenty minutes trying to get a human on the phone when I called my bank. After saying my account number for the 27th time to a computer I was frothing at the mouth and blood vessels were bulging from my neck. What's this got to do with horses? Simply this: How many times have we approached our horses smiling - and walked away spitting nails? Haven't we all wanted to take up a frying pan when our horse refused something simple like picking up his feet, standing for mounting or allowing himself to be haltered? I write this article, then, in the interest of making your horse world a little less contentious. I'll talk specifically about haltering problems, but the running theme can be applied to other, similar issues.
Clinton Anderson is fond of saying (something akin to) "frustration begins where knowledge leaves off." Exactly. But it also kicks in when we simply let something "get to us." Do you think my banker would have got my goat this AM had I just won the lottery? The secret to horse training may be "Get an education, be consistent and spend the necessary time," but simply saying that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. So, today, we'll add this: "...And don't let the sucker get ya down."
Be advised that training your horse to properly turn and face you and/or training your horse to come to you are beyond the scope of this article. I will go over a couple of quick fixes - but know that a horse that disrespects you in such a cavalier fashion has larger issues that need to be addressed. That horse is telling you in no uncertain terms "You ain't the boss, get lost." (And that attitude will surface when you're out riding.) Do yourself a favor and get some info (from an article, a book, a video, or a pro) on how to teach your horse to properly stand when you approach. Better yet, learn to teach your horse to come to you. There's a huge difference between the attitude of a horse that walks away from you and the horse that comes when asked.
Halter breaking a horse begins like this: If your horse is in a stall and he turns away from you, then you'll want to annoy him until "something" (an ear, a head, a body) turns toward you, however briefly. Be super careful and stand well away from those kicking feet. A full "horse length" is a good rule of thumb. Standing back, you'll rap the wall, clap your hands and basically make a racket till the horse turns and looks at you. Stop and pause, telling the horse that this is what you were looking for,...