A halter is like your steering wheel to your horse. It is your main point of connection to apply pressure and direct movement.
In a previous article, we compared web halters versus rope halters, discussed their pros and cons, and concluded that a rope halter is a much better option.
This article will discuss how to tie your new rope halter properly. It is one thing to have the proper tool. It is another thing to use the tool properly.
Parts Of A Rope Halter
Before we discuss how to tie a rope halter on your horse correctly, we must cover (and you learn) the names of the different parts of the halter.
Learning the anatomy of the halter was an essential step in my learning process because (frankly) I wanted to sound smart around someone with more experience than me.
Understanding the terminology helps you (especially when you are starting) feel more confident in what you are doing and being around other horse people.
Here is a breakdown of the Clinton Anderson rope halter and its components:
Poll Strap: This strap goes over the top of your horse's head (or its poll).
Tie Loop: This loop is located on the left side of the halter and is where your poll strap will go through when you tie the halter.
Throat Piece: These two halter pieces run behind the horse's jaw along its throat.
Gullet Piece: This section runs along its jawline down to the fiador knot.
Cheek Strap: As it sounds, the straps on both sides of the halter that position along the horse's cheek.
Nose Band: This is where the Clinton Anderson rope halter is different than most others on the market. The nose band on this halter contains two additional knots positioned near the top of the nose. These extra knots are arranged by two pressure points, making the horse more responsive.
Fiador Knot: A symmetrical knot that acts as the foundation for the entire rope halter.
Loops To Attach Lead: Some rope halters feature a metal ring at this point where you would attach a lead rope. I prefer the rope loops. They are less harsh than a metal ring; but, still have enough mass to apply a noticeable correction when needed.
Make Sure Your Halter Fits Properly
As you can imagine, proper fit is critical to the effectiveness of your rope halter.
Think about when you are trying to pick out a new belt. If the belt is too big, you have a lot of excess belt material on the tag end (after the buckle). Conversely, if the belt is too small, you barely have any material left.
When you tie your rope halter and put the poll strap through the tie loop, the amount of material left over is a first good indication of the fit of the halter.
Barely enough, the halter might be too small. So much that the tie loop ends up near the top of your horse's poll, you probably need to get a size smaller.
Other indicators to look out for are the fit around the nose and behind the jaw. You want the throat straps to nestle right behind your horse's jaw. When the throat straps are correctly aligned, the noseband should be in an excellent overall location.
If the noseband is way down at the end of your horse's nose, your halter is too big. Likewise, if getting the throat straps around the jaw ends up with a noseband wanting to suck up hear its eye, you need to size up.
Rope Halter Sizes
As a reference, Dart is right around 14.3H and 1,000lbs. I guessed and got him an "average" sized rope halter, and it fits him great.
Here are some measurements to help you get the proper size out of the gate.
Tie Above The Loop. Not Below.
How you tie your rope halter is very important to prevent frustration down the road.
Trust me. When I started, I was tying it wrong.
What will be the result?
A knot that was so tight I could barely get it loosened.
You have selected the correct halter and positioned it on your horse.
Now, to tie it properly, you want to:
Properly tying a rope halter is by no means rocket science; but, a few small tips and tricks can be the difference between a pleasurable experience or a rodeo for you and your horse.
If you would like an additional reference for tying rope halters, I recommend checking out this video from Dauphin Horsemanship.
This is the video I used to learn how to tie a rope halter correctly.
After growing up working on his family's farm in the Midwest, life brought him to Missoula, MT. There, he connected with a mustang named Dart and was called to a lifelong journey of learning about horses and horsemanship. It is his hope to share the knowledge, experiences, and resources he has come across along the way.
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