Handling: Equipment Copy

Lesson 1, Topic 1
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Handling: Equipment Copy

Proper Equipment

It is customary to use a halter and lead rope when working around horses, although you may feel comfortable working without. For the context of this class, we will always halter the horse for a massage session. Tying the horse properly is recommended in many situations, although you may find yourself more comfortable working on the horse untied as you gain confidence. If you are not familiar with the equipment used to restrain horses, please take the time to become acquainted. If this information is review, it is still worth a read for review purposes.


The halter, similar in function to the collar of a dog, allows us to maneuver the head of the horse and direct his visual focus where we want it. Halters come in several forms and are either leather, nylon or rope. Many people prefer leather because it can break under pressure, reducing the risk of injury if the horse falls, resists or becomes entangled. Nylon or cotton is more durable and less expensive and is preferred by some for those reasons. Rope halters are also durable, plus are light weight, and are sometimes preferred by those doing a lot of groundwork and “natural horsemanship” type exercises with their horses.

A key difference with rope halters to be aware of is that rather than being buckled on, they are tied with a special knot which can still be untied after being tightened by the pressure of a horse pulling back. Therefore, be sure to never tie a rope halter on a horse unless you are sure it is properly tied. (We can show you during the practicum if you’re interested.)

There are three primary parts to the halter

  •        Headstall – runs along the sides of the face and over the poll, just behind the ears.
  •        Throatlatch – runs from the base of the ear under the jaw-line from side to side.
  •        Noseband – surrounds the nose at the level of the hard facial bones.

The halter should fit and be adjusted such that the throatlatch is loose, but not hanging too low, and the noseband should lie comfortably just below the bony facial crest and on the upper part of the nasal bones, and not too far down onto the softer part of the nose or the ends of the fragile nasal bones.