There’s an essential piece of equipment that every horse owner must have, but it’s often the most overlooked item in the tack room. We use them daily, and when one breaks or gets lost, it will be replaced without a second thought. This is the horse halter. All halters have the same primary function of controlling the horse's movements while handling them, but not all halters will fit your handling techniques. Equally, not all halters will fit your horse perfectly. When shopping for a new halter for a show or everyday use, it is essential to consider what the halter will be used for, your tastes, and the safety and comfort of your horse.

Fitting a Halter on Your Horse

Fit for your horse is the number one priority when choosing a new halter. There are four places to measure for a proper halter fit:

  1. The noseband should sit halfway between your horse's eyes and nostrils. Measure around the entire circumference of your horse's nose, and add 1 to 3 inches. When trying the new halter on your horse, you should be able to fit three fingers under the noseband.

  2. The cheek pieces should run parallel to your horse's cheekbones and ensure the hardware isn't putting pressure on their face.

  3. The poll strap should sit behind your horse's ears without pinching, and you should be able to fit three or four fingers underneath the halter. Be sure to check that the hardware of your chosen halter isn't too snug and isn't applying pressure to your horse's face.

  4. Last to check is the throat strap. Like the poll strap you should be able to fit three or four fingers underneath the halter, this piece shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.

After finding the perfect size for your horse, consider what you will need a halter for. Is your horse turned out with its halter on? Do you use a halter while doing groundwork? Are you trailering your horse often? Are you looking for a halter to show in halter or another in-hand class? Do you turn your horse out and throw the halter on the ground next to the gate daily? Answering these questions about your personal equestrian style will help you choose your new halter!

Types of Horse Halters and Their Uses

With the number of options available searching for a new halter can be overwhelming. Here we will discuss some of the most popular choices, leather, nylon, breakaway, shipping, rope, and show halters to make shopping easier. Remember your answers to the questions above to help you find the perfect halter for you!

Leather Halter

Leather Halters

Leather halters are timeless and have been a favorite type of halter from equestrians from all disciplines and backgrounds for decades because leather is a natural material and will break under extreme pressure. Leather is a top choice for people who turn out their horse with a halter on because the leather is more likely to break if it gets hung on something. While leather halters can be the more expensive option, they can keep your horse safe and will last a long time!

Breakaway Halter

Breakaway Halters

Breakaway halters are another excellent option for turnout since these halters are designed to break if a horse gets accidentally hung on something. These halters are made of nylon or a cotton blend webbing and have a replaceable leather breakaway crown or leather tab that allows the halter to break cleanly away from your horse's head. Replacement pieces for these halters are also relatively budget-friendly and easy to clean with soap and water.

Shipping Halter

Shipping Halters

Suppose you find yourself trailering your horse often, a shipping halter may be the best halter option for you. These halters are typically made with a softer, breakaway material to not to leave rub marks on a horse's face. Some horses may lean against their halter and lead while bumping down the road to balance, which can create some rubs, typically under the noose band, cheeks, or crown.

Nylon Halter

Nylon Halters

Nylon halters are durable and long-lasting, even with heavy daily use. They can also be a bit more budget-friendly. However, they are not ideal for turnout. They won't break if your horse finds itself in trouble or hung on something. Nylon halter's durability can come in handy for equestrians who use their halter a lot or in a location where the halter has a lot of wear and tear. These halters come in various styles and function options, such as padding, brass grommets, fleece lined, throat snaps, and adjustable nosebands. Nylon halters also have many personalization options like name plates, embroidery, bright colors, patterns, and opportunities for a matching lead rope. Who doesn't love a matchy matchy set? Nylon is also easy to keep clean with simple soap and water!

Rope Halter

Rope Halters

Rope halters are another durable, classic option that has been around for years. These halters don't have any hardware, won't break, and are secured with a specific type of knot. Rope halters are inadvisable for turnout. Like nylon halters, they won't break if the halter gets hung on a fence or anything while turned out. They are recommended for groundwork or any handling and are popular among equestrians practicing natural horsemanship since it allows for more subtle communication. The rope size and how many knots are in the halter can help determine how much pressure you want to add. A thinner size or more knots will give you more "bite," while a thicker rope will be milder. Additionally, rope halters are popular for horses with behavior issues since they won't break.

Show Halter

Show Halters

Last but never least, Show halters are essential when showing your horse in hand. Whether it be showmanship, halter, or a leadline class, your halter is a way to make a first impression on the judge and help you stand out in your competing division. These halters are designed for appearance, full presentation, and quality in the show ring, making them expensive purchases but not daily use or wear and tear. When considering a show halter for your horse, it's critical to evaluate your horse's breed. A Quarter Horse would have a show halter very different from an Arabian. Quarter horses wear thicker leather halters, often adorned with elaborate silver pieces along the noseband and cheek. In contrast, Arabians usually wear delicate leather or plastic halters with a thin brass chin chain for control. Although the halters are remarkably strong, they are not meant for tying, cross-tying, or daily use.

If you think your old halter looks a little worn and is showing wear and tear, or you want to put your best hoof forward in the show pen. Your needs have changed; maybe you got a new horse or are starting the two-year-old. Perhaps you simply want something new! Whatever your reason for halter shopping, everyone has their preferences, but finding the best fit for you and your horse is the most important in choosing your new halter.

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