Horse Halters, types and how to use

by Jordan Manfredi
There are a number of different types of horse halters I will first list a number of different halters and there uses. Leather Halters Leather halters are the most expensive halters but beware. Quality leather halters are mostly made in the USA out of American cowhide. These halters will serve you well for a number of reasons. First, the leather is flexible and strong. Second the fit is much better than most coming from other countries. You may ask why this is. The reasons are, that most imported halters (into the USA) are not cow hide they are water buffalo. This leather may be strong enough but is brittle and will crack. The hardware is usually weak. Also the finish is sprayed on and will not take oil to keep it in good condition. The fit will generally run large. I will talk about the fit later in this post. American made leather halters come in a number of styles and sizes. The leather is supple and the stitching is very good. The hardware is usually solid brass. You may notice that nylon halters out sell leather halters and this is certainly due to the selling price. Leather halters tend to be safer than nylon halters because they will break if a horse gets caught on something. However, they can be repaired and generally serve the owner well. You will find a range of prices on quality leather halters. Some examples are turn out halters, track halters, show halters, fancy stitched halters, leather halters with padding, and grooming halters. Turnout halters are the least expensive. They should be lined with a very soft and flexible leather to deter hair loss under the halter straps. Some halters will have a snap at the throat and an adjustment at the chin while others only feature a snap at the throat and some have no snap or adjustment. Yet others feature double crown buckles. This is an advantage because you will have greater flexibility with the fit. Also crowns will usually break first and the crown can easily be replaced. These halters can range from the $30.00 category up to over $100.00 for the fancy stitched and padded group. Show halters for Western in hand classes can be much higher because of the silver that is added. We at Horse Tack Company offer one of the largest ranges of leather halters anywhere. All are American made. Nylon halters. This category of halters are the most used today. However there are a few things you should know about them. First, just because it says nylon does not mean they are nylon. These halters fall into two classes. (1.) Nylon. This is a very strong and durable product. The tensile strength is approximately 4,200 pounds for one inch webbing. It also has the ability stand up to UV light or sun exposure very well. Nylon also has a strong resistance to mildew and abrasion. It washes well and is fairly color fast. It will last longer than Polypropylene webbing (poly halters) but is more expensive. Nylon halters are suitable for trailering, wash rack, and turning out your horse. However we suggest that a leather crown style (safety halter) be used for turnout to prevent accidents. Polypropylene Halters. Poly halters are less expensive because polypro is less costly to produce and is easier to cut and burn so there is less labor involved in there production. Poly halters resist mildew the same as nylon but have much less resistance to abrasion and UV light. The tinsel strength is about 800 pounds but can vary from 600 to 1000 pounds depending on the webbing used. So it stand to reason that the cheapest halters are poly with a break point at about 600 pounds. Maybe less if cheap hardware is used. One conclusion that should be made from the above information is that poly halters are not well suited for trailering horses. The reason being is that if you are in an accident the halter should not break. You never want a horse running down the freeway with the possibility of being hit by a car and injuring people causing untold liability. Also if used as a turn out they will not hold up well due to the lack of UV resistance. They will also become slightly brittle and cause rubbing on the horses face and nose.
Halter fitting.
Horses have different conformation. Some are long and straight on the top and bottom while others have prominent jowls. Other horses have thick necks and yet others have thin necks. Halters come in sizes ranging from suckling to draft horse sizes. There are even halters made for specific breed types like Arabian halters. So you can see that manufactures have done there best to create sizes for every horse. It is the responsibility of the horse owner to choose the correct fit for their animal. There are two areas that are of most concern. First the crown and throat piece. This must fit snuggly around the throat and poll. Not so tight that the horse cannot flex but tight enough so that if you reach between the ears you cannot pull the halter off the head. Note here, that if the cheeks are not long enough and the nose band not large enough you will not be able to fit around the neck correctly. Second is the chin adjustment. This should have plenty of room for the horse to open and close his mouth while eating or drinking. While this would seem obvious, I have witnessed horses that have had to have halters surgically removed because the owner adjusted the chin too tight and left the halter on a young horse so long that the horse grew too big for the halter. Halters should be removed daily. This allows both the horse and the equipment to be inspected for problems.

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