Have you ever had the frustration
of going to get your horse who
then turns and walks away from you?
Great Horsemanship Trainers use the Halter Test
It is a quick and easy way to get a TON of information about you and your horse. By simply paying attention to the bits of information the horse gives you as you are doing it, you can easily learn to use the Halter Test to gain a better understanding of your horse.
Putting On a Halter Matters
Horses respond to great horsemanship in very predictable ways because great horsemanship is about respecting how your horse thinks.
Horses will often change their behaviors based on who they are dealing with. However, the first time they deal with a new person, they will most often follow their established behavior patterns. This makes it really easy to get an assessment of your level of horse behavior intelligence as well as assess your horse’s general emotional reaction to people by where they are tense when you are handling them.
Paying attention to where they are tense gives you an idea of where the horse still needs help and is lacking understanding.
This information is super helpful because it will give you massive insight into other issues that may be coming up in other areas of the horse when working with them.
Horses with great human relations are willingly interested in you and what you are doing. A horse should behave as if you are a natural part of their life, and being with you is the safest place they could ever be.
Using The Halter Test to Make the Connection Between How Horses Think and Where You Might Need Help
When a Great Horseman puts a halter on a horse, something magical seems to happen.
- The horse steps up to the person, they are genuinely interested in them.
- The horseman opens the halter as an invitation and the horse gently puts their muzzle into it or will position their face for the person to put it over their muzzle easily.
- The horse will lower their head or hold their head quietly still (not the same as still and tight!) so the person can easily get the halter over the ears and fasten it. They are not pushing the horse’s head down.
- The horse will often take a deep breath.
- The horseman carefully glides the halter over the horse’s muzzle so as not to rub the halter against the hair.
- They will then be sure to not crimp any ears or bump any eyes when going over the ears and fastening.
- The horse then waits patiently but will get ready to take a step forward when the horseman offers it.
- The horse and person walk off together as if the horse were a weightless object at the end of the rope.
You can measure your own skill level based on your horse’s response when he sees you with the halter.
Initial signs of disrespect or discomfort with your presence:
They see you with the halter and they turn their back to you.
They put their head in the corner when you approach with the halter.
Signs that your horse has learned time with you has a negative effect on them:
Avoidance, pushiness, turning away, stubborn behavior, shoving face into the halter and then pushing forward with the shoulder, biting or nipping, ear pinning, putting their head up so you cannot reach their ears, you pulling the halter on their head and them in turn pushing you with their head or muzzle, head slinging, seeing the whites of their eyes, looking for an escape route.
If you experience any of those issues when putting on the halter, take note! Most people do, and that’s fine for them, but you want to be great!
Negative reactions from the horse simply mean you need help with your understanding of how horses think.Your horse needs you to take some time to understand what your intentions are and assess how you are asking things of them.
Slow down and spend time on the areas that are really bothering your horse. See if you can get him to relax and chew while you are touching the areas that made him tense before.
Great Horsemanship takes time. Taking the time on simple actions like putting on the halter will pay you back in dividends in other areas of working with your horse. You will notice as tension disappears when the halter is put on, tension starts disappearing when you put the bridle on and when you’re riding….
The Halter Test is a method Great Horsemanship Trainers use to gain quick information about you and your horse’s mental state when interacting with people.
Try the halter test with your horses. What did you find out about you and your horse?
Post your comments below!
Here is a cute video from Heather Nelson, of heathernelsonlibertytraining.com
about haltering horses. There is a great slow motion sequence on there where she demonstrates her horse’s response to her approach. Enjoy!