Halter breaking

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Sep 30, 2005
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For my daughter's 10th birthday me along with grandparents, aunt and uncle got her a mini mare and her little 3 month old filly. The filly had never had a halter on until today when mine arrived from PrimeDesign (very nice and helpful that Debbie is, btw). I know nothing about halter breaking and could use some help/advise/suggestions on how to do this. We put it on Pixie and she had a fit. pulling back, she even fell over in the mud once. Eventually, we took her and Molly (her Mama) both for a walk with halter and lead rope. I basically let Pixie follow Molly with the thought that she needs to get used to the halter and lead. However, I can use any advise you all can shoot my way.

Thanks so much and let me say... this forum is awesome and you all are so helpful and friendly!
[SIZE=14pt]Thats all you do..... put it on and off of her a few times a day. take momma and her for a walk together. She will get the hang of it. We start our babys by the second day here but realize that isnt the norm. They do pull back and the harder you try to pull them the harder they dig in or go backwards! Let her lead you a round for a while.[/SIZE]

For my mini, it was simple....I tied him to the (pipe) fence for about 20 minutes a day for 3 days, and woila...a halter broke sucker he is. If you let them pull on themselves by being tied to something, they'll learn to give to the pressure themselves, without you having to apply it to them.

At first, he hung back on the lead rope, threw a fit, gave me the evil eye, then he got over his fit after about 5 minutes, and stood there nicely like an old broke saddle horse. It did take about 3 days of this, then that was it.

After that, I still continue to tie him to the fence when I bathe him, pick out his feet, etc...he now knows not to pull on me or anything else, because the fence pulls back!
I try to treat my horses like 'big' horses.

To start I put a halter & lead on them and let them loose in the round yard with it for a couple of times. They stand on it and soon work it out.

Once they are use to this I will tie them up.

Once they are use to being tied I will start leading, just a little at a time!

Takes about a week but at least I dont have to 'fight' with them.

though you do get some that just lead!
Thank you for the kind words Shelley. Sounds like you are off to a pretty good start.

A word of caution.....a baby that is not used to a halter/lead can and will flip. This happened to my daughter many years ago. She was working at a mini farm and he had sold the 3 mo old pali filly and wanted it halter broke asap. She wanted to do it her way over a weeks time but it had to be by the next day. She haltered the filly and put on the lead, when the baby felt the pressure she exploded and flipped and broke her little neck, she died instantly.

SO...now we introduce the halter early as a toy. Now your Pixie is 3 mos old so the same holds true. Make it a game. Sit on a bucket and slip it on and off, over and over, Rub it on her nose and her head. Let her nibble on it and toss it around, stomp on it even. Soon the buckling of the headpiece will be easy and she'll toss abit and stomp but by then she trusts you and will accept it.

Go slow with her, build her love and trust with lots of love and scratches. I began leading Missy at 3 mos, very slowly, if she balked or pulled I gave in. I do not believe in dragging them. Now Missy is 4 1/2 mos old and I can drape a lead around her neck and run her in and out.

Your ladies all are very lucky to have such a loving family. Welcome again to this wonderful world of minatures and our forum family here.
I also go in small steps. I often use the lead rope as a butt rope to encourage them forward. When I put the halter on I like their butts against a fence so they can't run backwards. I let them lead me around and when I do ask them to give as soon as they even give a hint of moving forward I release the tension on the rope. If they plant their feet I just pull them sideways a bit until they give. Doesn't take long and their leading. I don't like tying a foal until they're at least 6 months old so that their neck muscles are more developed. Hope that helps.
Please do NOT tie your filly up- she could as easily break her neck as be halter "broke" (OH GOSH how I HATE that term!!!!) I NEVER halter "break" my foals, I halter TRAIN them, as I know almost every on else here does. It takes a while but you are doing it exactly right. Listen to almost everyone else- Debs (Dimimore) has it spot on. A little and often and kindly gets the foal trained, not rough and ready. If you want a gentle, friendly pet, that is how you must treat her- gentle and friendly. She will have to be tied up eventually, but, hopefully, by then, she will accept it and only give a token gesture fight.

I much preferr not to break my foals necks if I can avoid so doing
I have to have my say here too. And I have to agree, Never let them flip over. I know a girl here to who was trying to halter break her mini filly and she flipped over and never moved again. This is why I always have my foals halter broke before they go, because I want it done gently. I use the butt rope too, I give 4 or 5 lessons, only a few minutes at a time and they're good to go. I would never just tie a foal to a solid object and let it, not even if I"m right there watching. I think you're just taking a risk here. Good luck and enjoy you're new minis.
I would never tie up a baby to train them- they have delicate bones/tendons ect and struggling against a tied rope can cause serious damage.

We imprint with the halter at birth and for a few days. At about two months I put the halter on and leave them alone and they may rear or shake thier heads but it's not too much a fuss. I do that for a couple days. If I have a weanling that is going to a new home I'll also get them used to a rope gently around the body then behind them and then use it as a butt rope. I let them lead me at first on a long lead then practice with an experienced horse ahead of them. I also teach them to move away from pressure on halter and body. If it's a baby we are keeping I may not get serious about leading till five or six months. Until then, while young, I teach them to go from place to place in an enclosed area using my hands on a mane or chest/rump combo.


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