The rope halter and lead rope are communication tools. When we send properly timed pressure and release signals through the lead rope to the halter, we can direct the horse’s movements–often with an amazing level of subtlety.
However, for this signaling system to be effective, the halter must fit correctly.Correct rope halter fit is all about matching proportions. Consequently, when evaluating whether or not a rope halter fits a horse, we are actually looking to see how well the halter’s proportions match the proportions of the horse’s head.
A correct-fitting halter “blends in” and frames the horse’s head. That is, the halter parts flow along, over, and around various parts of the horse’s head.
Too Large a Fit – A halter that is too large tends to not conform to the horse’s head. Instead, it has a loose, sloppy appearance, drooping down the horse’s nose, sagging under the jaw line in an unsafe position.
A rope halter that is too large, for example, distorts the signals, leaving the horse to sort through the “static” as best he can. In addition, a halter that is too large is at risk of shifting sideways on the horse’s face and sliding into his/her eye. This presents a danger.
Too Small – In addition to being uncomfortable for the horse, the continual pressure of a tight-fitting halter is like a telegraph key that is stuck. With no contrast between on and off, the pressure/release system of signaling cannot work.
A halter that is too small will often be tight to put on. The knots will be in the wrong places and the halter pieces themselves will be too short. This makes the halter uncomfortable for the horse. In addition, the signalling ability of the halter is compromised–the “on/off” nature of the signal will not be possible.
Proportions Must Match –This means that the halter’s proportions must match the horse’s proportions. Achieving this “match” is what correct fit is all about!
Correct Fit – A correct-fitting rope halter is efficient. It has just enough room to provide comfort, yet it “frames” the horse’s head closely enough to eliminate excess movement. As a result, the signals you send can be clearly received–“static” free.
Because the proportions of the rope halter match the proportions of the horse’s head, a correct-fitting rope halter looks pleasing on the horse’s head. Knots nestle into grooves and depressions, and the halter pieces “frame” the horse’s head.
Develop an eye for judging fit. A helpful place to start is by doing a Google image search http://images.google.com/ and do a search for rope halters.