I know this seems pretty basic to most people but, halters are a useful tool!
Yes, it comes as a shock to me.
We almost always work at liberty. It works very well for us. We accomplish what we set out to, the horses are happy, we get quite a bit done.
Right now with the spring grass growing fresh and green though, I can’t compete. The horses have to wear halters. Saying no is one thing. Choosing to leave to go eat the grass they aren’t allowed to have anyway is completely different. That was the subject of another post though!
Using halters I have come to the shocking conclusion that they are very useful tools.
They help us give clear, precise information to our horses. They help in the same way that using any other sort of pressure helps us communicate with our horses.
They can help an energetic enthusiastic horse slow down. They can help a horse who wants to fetch everything know what you don’t want them to fetch. I suppose they would help with leading, who needs a halter for that though.
Like with the use of pressure a halter can be used badly. We can yank on the leadrope add nose chains and generally work hard to make our horses miserable, just like we can gouge with spurs and yank on reins. The difference is in the use of the tool, not that the tool was used.
Can people get the same job done without a halter? Without ever using pressure? Yes, it can be done. There are people who can teach horses to do amazing things without ever touching them.
How many of us are truly capable of that though?
How many of us instead let our horses flounder about confused and trying desperately to figure out what we are asking?
What is worse? To use a bit of pressure, some negative reinforcement, in a calm clear way? Or to have a confused worried horse?
I am going to try to remember this lesson about the use of halters even after the grass isn’t so lush and tempting. Sometimes a bit of extra guidance isn’t a bad thing!