October 14, 2013

Revisiting Rope Halters...

Back in January 2012 I posted about Stud Chains vs. Rope Halters. I still stand by my feelings regarding the two. However, once Rose got going in full work back in January 2013 she also got a large dose of groundwork. I revisited using a rope halter at this time and I did become quite fond of it as a training tool when working on ground work. You may have noticed a lot of photos of her in a rope halter this past year. A lot of Rose's groundwork happened non-stop during while being handled. This included everything from hand grazing, tying (with blocker tie rings for safety), to actual in hand work. The rope halter was not used during longeing (bridle or longeing cavesson only) and if anyone else except for my trainer was riding her in my absence. I wanted them to cross tie her in her leather halter only.

In her rope halter, being a good girl for her first shoeing.
I did however cross tie her in the rope halter myself and under my constant supervision only. This was due to the fact that some of our groundwork consisted of getting her to stand quiet in the cross ties. I would need to frequently take her out of the cross ties, do some groundwork, put her back and repeat. Clearly switching halters was not an option, and stud chains in cross ties is an even worse idea than a rope halter. No harm ever came from her being cross tied in the rope halter, and under constant supervision with quick release cross ties, I felt that it was being done as safe as possible. Her groundwork got so good as a result that she behaved very well in flat halters.

The result of all this groundwork was astounding, and I now have a better understanding and somewhat affection for using rope halters as a training tool. I still don't like using them as a day in day out halter, especially on a mature and trained horse. I just don't think they should be used if there is no need for them. However, on a big opinionated youngster, they are definitely a very helpful tool.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


  1. Groundwork is definitely an area where my education is lacking -- the only "groundwork" I ever did was Showmanship as a kid. But now, I'm really realizing that there is so. much. more. to learn. Hoping I can convince my trainer and some friends to help me improve my knowledge and groundwork skills this winter!

  2. Great read. I think your pretty spot on, and I grew up very far from the land of stud chains. I haven't used my rope halter in a long time. To me they are awkward for cross-ties, and I just feel better using a break-away nylon (too cheap for leather).

  3. I use both in very different ways, but I ADORE the rope halter for ground work, lunging, and unruly horses. I don't use them as a daily halter or to tie horses (except in rare, supervised circumstances, like those you talked about here). I do use them for working on trailer loading (but not to actually ship) and for lunging (if I'm not using a bridle).



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