Show Halters: The Secret Is The Fit

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An exhibitor fusses with her horse’s forelock during the last moments before their halter or showmanship class. She slips off the stable halter and slides on a masterpiece halter with silver, rubies and gold. The buckle is half the size of most rural towns. The price tag was more than some people paid for their first car.

Correct halter fit and adjustment: neat and workmanlike. Poor fit and adjustment: droops and sags.

Correct halter fit and adjustment: neat and workmanlike. Poor fit and adjustment: droops and sags.

Is all this necessary' No!

Glitz has gotten out of hand in most areas of the show-pen world, where the appearance seems to indicate that you must have gobs of money to compete. Imagine not showing your horse because you thought you needed a halter that cost hundreds of dollars in order to look acceptable. Maybe you left a good horse at home in the barn because you couldn’t afford an expensive halter.

Ridiculous, isn’t it'

The truth is, most judges are not even looking at how much silver or gold, or how many rubies are on those show halters. What the judges want to see is fit. Remember that word: Fit!

Where’d It Start'
Many trainers shy away from gaudy halters, concentrating on a good fit and style that compliments a horse’s head. As a matter of fact, if you’re not showing at the World or Congress level, you can probably do quite well using a plain leather halter, if it fits and is of good quality. This silver fascination has gotten out of hand.

Many years ago, a well-known American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) trainer of halter horses won classes at both the AQHA World and Congress with a plain leather halter with a small silver buckle, tip and keeper, but that was it. What has happened since then, however, is that exhibitors have convinced themselves that the more they spend on a halter, the better their chance of winning. But the fact of the matter is, as any judge will tell you, if you put a $2,000 halter on a $500 horse you still have a $500 horse. And, more than likely, it accentuates the fact that your horse isn’t the quality of others in the class.

If you feel you want a silver halter, get one that is comfortably priced for your budget, regardless of the volume of silver on it. It’s more important that it fits, even if you have to pay for some custom changes.

Style Guidelines
The best course of action is for you to try out several halters with the option, of course, of returning the ones you don’t want. In deciding which one looks best, get some friends to help. Put a halter on your horse and have your friends look from all angles and several distances.

Does that halter make the horse’s head look larger than it is' Ditch it. Does it complement the head and not look too elaborate' Great.

If you have a refined, doll-headed horse, don’t take away from those attributes by using a big gaudy halter that looks heavy. You don’t want a big buckle or excessively wide silver bars on the cheek or nose. With a longer-headed horse, a larger buckle will draw the eye right to it, distracting from the length of his head. Geldings with bigger heads can handle the extra silver and width. Don’t, however, make the mistake of getting a huge buckle, especially one that adjusts high and pinches the horse behind the base of the ear. There is no way a horse will look alert, with his eyes bright and ears forward, if he is in pain.

When you choose a halter, be sure the crown piece isn’t so long that there’s a lot of extra leather trailing down after you buckle the halter. If you’re using a halter on two different horses that wear the same size halter, but one is bigger through the poll area, have a second crown piece made with a little more length for the larger horse. If your halter has a buckle on each side, you can quickly put the halter on the next horse and change the crown piece.

If the halter cheek piece is excessively long, it might make the horse’s head look longer. If it’s too short, it doesn’t position as straight up and down the jaw line as it should, and it throws the halter out of alignment and makes the crown piece look too long. Stand back, when the halter is on your horse, and see what visual effects it gives.

A halter with a rolled throatlatch strap — some have a wire inside — allows you to manipulate the strap to get it in just the right spot, up snugly in the throatlatch area. If a horse is a little fleshy in the throatlatch, that strap can suck some of it up.

Try to find a halter that is adjustable in the chin and gullet areas. The gullet is the piece that runs from the bottom ring, where you attach your lead shank, up to the throatlatch strap. All of this on the underside of the chin and jaw should be snug.

Halters generally come in three colors: light oil, medium oil (a reddish-brown russet color), or dark oil. Medium oil is popular, complementing most horse colors. But near-black dark oil only seems to work best with palominos and buckskins.

The colors of the leather and hardware on your lead shank should match your halter. If you’re showing a number of young horses or stallions, you might want to consider having a lead shank custom made to a length as long as nine feet. If your horse pulls away from you, there’s plenty of slack to reel out, and the chance that he will get loose is usually greatly lowered.

Also With This Article
Click here to view ”Show Halter Style.”
Click here to view ”It’s Not The Fancy Duds.”
Click here to view ”Silver-Halter Care.”
Click here to view ”Judges Speak: It’s not the silver that counts.”