One of the largest factors that can contribute to a horse pulling back on the lead or refusing to go forward is improper fit of the halter. Like any other piece of tack it needs to fit properly in order to do its job. If the halter is too tight or loose and not positioned properly on the horse’s head it can cause pain or discomfort which can lead to behavior issues. By correctly fitting and positioning your horse’s halter you could find him to be much more accepting to being caught and lead.
The main pieces of the halter are
- Crownpiece – Runs over the top of the horse’s head across the poll. It should be slightly behind the horse’s ears, but not touching or rubbing against them.
- Throatlatch – Passes underneath the horse’s head. You should be able to slide 2-3 fingers between the halter and throat to ensure it is loose enough the horse can still swallow and breath, but tight enough that it won’t catch on something.
- Cheek piece – Should run parallel to the check bones, across the side of the horse’s face.
- Noseband – Goes around the horse’s muzzle. Should lay half way between the horse’s eyes and nostrils.
In this picture the noseband is to far down on the horse’s muzzle and he could easily rub on the fence and slide it off over his nose. Also the crownpeice is too far back from the horses ears. When you pull the lead the noseband will force down on the horses sensitive muzzle.
This halter is too high up on the horse’s face. The crownpeice was buckled too tight which pulled the nose band upwards.
If your horse wears his halter outside all the time it’s best to use a breakaway halter. A breakaway halter has a small piece of leather underneath the side buckle which will break under pressure. So if horse the catches his halter on a branch or post the leather will snap and the halter will slide off his head, opposed to him fighting and pulling which will most likely lead to injury.
Finally, in this last picture the halter is fitted properly. It is halfway between the eye and nostril, and close to the horse’s ears, but not touching. The throatlatch isn’t too tight or loose and the cheekpieces are positioned correctly.