Saturday, June 6, 2009

How To Tie a Rope Halter

This has nothing to do with hooves, but I was outside today, dinking around with Peaches and as I was tying her rope halter, I thought of all the times I see people incorrectly tying their halters. So since I had my camera in my pocket, I decided to take pictures of how I tie a rope halter, just for fun!

On my visits to trim horses, I've noticed that many horse owners are switching over to rope halters, which is great! But the halter has to be tied correctly because an incorrectly tied halter can cause big problems in a pull-back situation.

If a horse that is wearing an incorrectly tied rope halter, should step on its lead rope and pull back hard, or go into panic mode and pull back, the knot you just tied will tighten and about the only way get the halter off will be to cut it off.

If a rope halter is tied correctly, it should never tighten to the point that you can't untie it.

So here is how I teach people to tie a rope halter:

First, I refer to the loop on the side of the halter as the "post" and the piece that comes over the top of the horse's head, as the "wire." If you were to tie a horse to a fence, you would tie his rope to the post, not the wire. Right!

This is a correctly tied halter. The rope is tied to the post, not the wire above it.

First, bring the wire down behind the post and bring it through the loop then pull the wire toward the horse's eye. (At this point, you can use your other hand to adjust the rest of the halter so that it is fitted under the chin and not hanging down the horse's nose. You can see I was concentrating on the knot here and didn't adjust the halter very well.)

Bring the tail of the wire back (in front of the post) toward the tail of the horse, leaving a loop in the wire on the head side of the post. Then run the wire behind the post and back out through "your" loop on the the head side and leaving another loop on the tail side of the. (That's all in this one picture.)

Next, I've grabbed the tail of the wire and brought it back through my loop that I made on the tail side of the post. And pull tight.

The end of the wire should end up pointing in the direction of the horse's tail. If not, you made a mistake. If your knot is above the post up on the wire, start over.

After a bit of practice, you can tie a rope faster than buckling a nylon halter.

If anyone would like more (better) pictures of this, let me know. I'll take and upload a few more.

Some rope halters are better than others though. The stiff ones, just don't have a real good feel in my opinion and I don't like more than 2 knots on the nose. Their are only 2 main pressure points on the nose and the extra knots serve no purpose really than to rub the hair off the horse's nose.

Of course my preference is the more flexible, lighter weight, Parelli halther and lead ropes. And speaking of lead ropes. there should be a snap between your halter and your lead rope. It's an extremely dangerous situation for your horse if you have the lead rope tied directly to the rope halter. If you're okay with the possiility of your horse breaking its neck, forget about the snap.

Our lovely model is 6 year old Santana Peaches. Peaches was originally rescued from a feed lot in Eastern Washingon as a weanling, along with a bunch of other weanling similar in color to her. A large group of babies going to their death because a breeder, possibly PMU breeder, had no use for them. Thankfully this group was saved, but I can't imagine how many others don't make it.

She was brought to Rainier by a neighbor who wasn't able to keep her so she came here as basically an unhandled yearling. Peaches is wonderful mare!


firecoach said...

Thanks Pat for the visual. I am able to tie mine, but my husband not so much. We have a rope company near us, who makes the halters for all the big name trainers. They used to make them for the Parelli's a long time ago. It all has to do with the brand of rope. I like the Samson brand of rope. It has a softness, yet it is firm. I had them make me all sorts of reins with that brand of rope.
I just bought a rope halter for my half draft/morgan. Where are the appropriate spot for the knots? They seem to hit him just below the vertical bones in his face.
When I bought the halter the lead rope was connected. But I went to a local sporting goods store and bought 2 locking carabineers. I used those ever since a regular carabineer ripped off half my finger. I also used them to close the slow down hay bags. Very useful items!
Have you talked to Cora lately and do you know how Jerry is doing?

Pat said...


I was just with Cora on Friday. She rode with me on a day of trimming. Sounds like Jerry is doing great. He loves Muffin, Cora's white Perchie. They are a cute couple, him being pitch black.

I think that on some of the homemade halters, the knots fall to far down the side of the face. But as far as where the knots should be, the halter, if tied properly will often losen as you use it and end falling a bit down the nose. So it just seems like if the nose band is about halfway between the boney part of the face and the nostrils, that seems about right.

I'm one of those people are often ride with nothing but a rope halter or hackamore and bridle/bit people think I'm nuts. What would I do in a panic situation? Well, if I were riding an run-a-way, I'd feel much more comfortable knowing I had control of my horses entire head, rather than just his mouth.

But really, the way I work with my horses, I hope that the control I have of him is not just some part of his body, but rather his mind and therefore, his entire body as well as my own.

Also the carabineer snap is not one I typically use. It's pictured in this post only because on that particular rope, I like using just the ring sometimes. I need to take that carabineer off and use sometimes different.

I like the twisty snaps that are on the Parelli 12 foot ropes and they're putting them on the 22 foot ropes now too. I'll have to check out the locking carabineers. I don't think I've seen those.

I've heard of some tragic injuries caused by carabineers.

firecoach said...

I will see if I can move the knots over just a bit, to get it more towards the nose.
I ride my Morgan in a mechanical hackamore, just the kind with leather across the nose and a chain chin strap. You can see it on my picture. I was thinking about getting a bitless bridle for her. I noticed in the Smith Bros catalog they have a Side Pull Rope halter that has rings on the side for reins. It is only 7.99 on sale. This is the same company that I order my slow down haybag feeder.
I have to go get a couple of more locking carabineers, if you send me your address I will mail you one to see if you like it.
I am glad Jerry is doing well, has Cora had anyone ride him yet? I will have to email her directly.
I am getting a new baby shortly. A mini mule who is originally from Chehalis. I get to go see her today. She is still with her mother as she is only 1.5 months old. I am so nervous to get a baby, never had a baby horse before!

Pat said...

Cora has been on Jerry's back and so have I. I really like him. But that was when she first got him and I don't think she's been on him since. But she loves him and I think if she never rides him, she's fine with that too.

Although, she and I have talked about getting together with our horses again this summer.

I'd love to try out one of those locking carabineers. What a nice offer to send me one. Since you and I were orginally emailing back and forth about Jerry, my computer crashed and I lot your direct email. Mine is so if you email me, I'll have yours again and can send you my address!

Great to hear from you!

One Red Horse said...

That was a handy little lesson. It is not easy writing clear instructions. Great job.

Pat said...

You've got that right. It's not easy at all. Taking those pictures was a spur of the moment idea. I happened to have the camera with me and was tying a rope halter. I looked from one to the other and thought, "Hey, I could take pics of me tying this and post it! 1. I should have gotten someone else to take the pics. 2. I should have at least knocked the hay bits off my before I took the pics. 3. I needed more pics than what I took one-handed.

Then to write about it with only the pics that I had to use! Funny.

But just yesterday I was trimming a horse whose Parelli halter was tied incorrectly. Another picture I should have posted, "an incorrectly tied rope halter" so everyone could see how that looked and could tell if they were doing it wrong.

Maybe next time!:0)

Pat said... my hand...

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