How to Fit a Horse Halter

Mature woman with son and daughter petting horse
Halters come in sizes that fit tiny ponies to the largest horses. Adie Bush / Getty Images

It's an unwritten rule of the horse world that when you sell a horse, it must have a halter on. But that doesn't mean it's the right halter. Just because your horse is wearing a halter when it comes home, doesn't mean it's wearing a halter that fits, or is even safe. You can easily get a halter that is too big, too small or is broken or worn in some way. And most of us like to make sure our horses are 'well dressed' so we want a halter that fits well and looks nice while being safe. Whatever the reason, you want to make sure your halter fits well so it doesn't bind or rub your horse's face. Here is how to find the right sized halter for your horse.

Common Sizes

Generally, horse halters come in standard sizes and you may see sizes such as these:

  • Mini - made to fit ​miniature horses or tiny foals.
  • Foal - may also fit a pony.
  • Weanling or Pony
  • Yearling - may also fit a pony.
  • Small - may also fit an Arabian.
  • Arab - Will have a smaller noseband than halters made for average or medium sized horses.
  • Cob or Small Horse - may also fit an Arabian, but the noseband may be too large because Arabs tend to have smaller noses than other breeds.
  • Horse/Average/Medium--intended to fit the average riding horse.
  • Large Horse--which may be a warmblood, draft cross or other larger breed. 
  • Warmblood
  • Draft/Large/Extra Large--for draft or workhorses, or some draft crosses depending on the size of their heads.

Measure to Be Sure

These horse halter sizes are only a guideline, and halters made by different manufacturers will fit differently. So before buying a halter, you'll want to do a little measuring. Estimate where the noseband should sit, about 2/3 of the way down between the horse's nostrils and eyes. Using a cloth tape measure or a piece of string measure around the horse's face. Write this measurement down. Starting at the side of the horse's face where the noseband would lay, measure from one side to the other, laying the tape along the horse's cheek, over the poll, and to the other side. You can now take these measurements to the tack shop as a guideline for choosing your halter. Measure from the cheek ring to cheek ring, keeping in mind you can easily adjust the crown with the buckle.

Check the Halter's Fit

Once you get your horse halter home, don't take the tags off until you've found out if it actually fits. (Check the store's return policy while shopping.) When you put the halter on, the noseband should not be too snug. You want your horse to be able to eat, drink and yawn without restriction. The throatlatch should not droop down too far, but you should be able to fit two or three fingers between it and the horse's jaw. Ask the horse to bend at the poll as if it were nodding 'yes', and make sure the halter isn't binding. It's important it isn't too loose, or the horse may put a foot through when it scratches with a hind foot, or if the halter dangles too loosely it can snag on things like gate latches or twigs.

Some horse halters come with an adjustable noseband and throat latches making a custom fit easy. All have a buckle that allows you to adjust it up or down, so the noseband can hang higher or lower. Once you've found a halter that fits, you can use it as a guide to buying future halters. It is handy to have an extra one around, just in case the one your horse is wearing gets lost or broken. And, here's how to choose the right type of halter for your horse.​