The halter is a basic piece of horse equipment that all trained horses wear. It is made of nylon, leather, or rope and worn on the horse's head so that the person working with the horse has something to hold on to. It has metal clasps to clip a lead rope on; this rope is used to walk the horse.
It's important to make sure a horse's halter fits properly. Poorly fitted halters can rub and cause pain, which may result in behavior problems from the horse. A halter may be too big, too small, or is broken or worn in some way. Here is how to find the right sized halter for your horse.
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.
- 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. 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. Then take a second measurement, 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 (top of the head), 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 (top piece of the halter) 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 (piece that goes below and around the jaw) 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. It can also slip off if too big.
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. A good rule of thumb is to always have an extra halter around, just in case the one your horse is wearing gets lost or broken.