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Halters for Horses: Selection Guide

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Horse halters top the list of essential equine accessories. Halters allow you to handle and control almost any horse from the youngest of foals to the largest of stallions. They help lead your horse through the barn or pasture, keep her safe while in the trailer, and help guide her to and from the riding trail. To top it all off, halters are available in a range of fashionable styles, materials, and colors. In fact, it is easy to see why most horse owners take as much care in their choice of halter as they do in their choice of horse.
Halter features
At its most basic, a halter is a piece of headgear worn by your horse to offer you better control of her actions. Halters allow you to curb the movements of your horse's head, which in turn helps command the movements of her body. Though similar in concept, halters differ from bridles in that the latter also features a bit for your horse's mouth. Most halters, however, have key features to ease use and increase durability. Those features include:
  • Adjustability - halters are designed to fit in a particular weight range. To better fit all horses within that range, look for halters with adjustable crowns. Some also feature adjustable nosebands.
  • Reinforced Construction - halters need to be strong. Look for multiple-ply construction, reinforced stitching at stress points, and heat-sealed or metal grommet buckle holes.
  • Strong Hardware - halters are only as good as the hardware that holds all the components together. Look for strong, solid metal buckles, rings, and clasps.
  • Comfortable Design - halters should not be uncomfortable to your horse. Adjustable designs ensure a snug fit. Rolled or flat throat straps increase comfort, depending on your horse's preferences.

Halter styles
Equine halters are available in a range of materials, hardware types, colors, and sizes. Features such as color and material are, in part, a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer standard, block colors, while others like a multi-color or faded design to best complement their horse's coat. Leather is a durable, yet often expensive material choice. Nylon, on the other hand, is strong and usually much more economically priced. Specialty halters, such as those fashioned from rope are also available if you prefer the look of the old west.

Most halters differentiate themselves with hardware and added features. Some further ease the act of haltering your horse with a throat clip. Others feature metal strap ends on the crown to help keep the halter flat and positioned on your horse. Still others feature a convenient buckle on either side of the adjustable crown to ease fitting. Whatever your preference or choice, however, you can be sure there is a halter to fit any horse in your barn.

Halter accessories
Depending on how you plan to use your halter, there are a range of accessories to help you guide, secure, or control your horse. When combined with a suitable lead, you can guide your horse through almost any situation, from calm pastures to crowded barns at competitions and shows. With a safety release system, you can help your horse stay calm and safe while in the travel trailer. If used with a lunge line, you can even train and exercise your horse with ease. There are even specialized halter cleaners available to keep your chosen halter in top form and condition, which will help you keep your horse comfortable, safe and controlled.

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