Rope halters are a popular equine training aid. They are well liked because some trainers feel that a rope halter provides clearer communication with the horse compared to a leather or web halter. Rope halters can be custom made in the size, color, or material you choose. Many different materials can be used to make rope halters. Traditional rope halters are often made of twisted horse mane and tail hair. Some materials are more durable than others. Cotton rope can shrink and/or may stretch and break down over time. Some nylon rope can fray and get picky. Choose your material carefully, so that it is comfortable for you and your horse.
- Don't leave any halter, especially a rope halter, on your horse while in the pasture. The only exception is if it is made to break away if the horse becomes tangled.
- Don't tie your horse with a rope halter. The narrowness of the rope can cause severe rope burn if the horse pulls back.
- Don't use a rope halter on foals. Their skin is tender and the rope halter might be too severe if the foal pulls back.
- Properly tie your knots and adjust the rope halter each time you use it. It shouldn’t tighten or loosen with use.
- If you choose to use a lead line that loops through the rope halter rather than one with a snap, make sure that the loop is small enough that the horse cannot put a foot through.
- Don't yank harshly on the horse with any halter on. Anything that makes your horse throw its head up and back is counterproductive to good training.
- Encourage head down rather than head up and back to enable your horse to relax and be obedient.
- Check your rope halter for fit after your horse has worn in a few times. Both knots and rope can relax, leaving your halter a bit bigger than expected.
Where to Find Instructions to Make Rope Halters
Rope halters are not difficult to make. They are a great gift and can be customized to coordinate with other tacks. You'll want to use a size chart and specific measurements to make sure you get a good fit. Pony Club Victoria has instructions and nice illustrations of the knots required to make a rope halter. Once you decide your material, pick anything that is braided or plaited. This could be a good way of using up old baler twine.
Probably, the most confusing part of making the halter is tying the fiador knot that goes under the chin. Find a good resource for instructions for tying fiador knots. Horse Knotting has a series of diagrams that demonstrate how to tie a fiador knot. If you're still stumped after reading and looking through the pictures, ask some horse owning friends or try going to a marina and getting a hands-on knotting demonstration from an experienced sailor. Online videos are also a helpful resource for a visual learner.