Sunday, December 12, 2010

Halters--the Proper Fit

Today's post comes from California hobbyist and performance shower extraordinaire, Susan Hargrove.  If you've ever had any inclination to show your halter horses with halters, Susan's advice should help make sure that halter is a help rather than a hindrance!

Don’t Ruin Your Model’s Appearance With A Poorly Fitted Halter!!

by Susan Hargrove
You’ve finally purchased your favorite stock-horse model...MINT condition...and are ready to take a show photo. You decide to put a silver show halter on your model...this simple decision could essentially eliminate your model from the competition if the halter is not adjusted properly!! Unfortunately, something as easily changed as the halter-fit can ruin the picture...especially if the halter hangs loose and gives an overall sloppy appearance!!

How should the halter fit? The halter should conform to the model’s head...fitting snugly behind the jaw and under the throatlatch. 

a) The noseband should be positioned approximately halfway between the eyes and the nostrils. Common Mistakes: 1) having the check piece too long...placing the noseband too low on the model’s head; 2) the diameter of the noseband is too small...causing it to remain too low on the horses head. 

b) The cheek piece should be parallel to the cheekbone on the horse. Common Mistake: Having the throatlatch too short...making it impossible to put the cheek piece in the correct "parallel" position. 

c) The crown strap should fit "closely" behind the horse’s ears...but not so close as to pinch them!!

d) The connector-strap between the chin strap and the throatlatch should fit "snugly" along the under side of the model’s head.

What about chains? Chains over the nose cause the halter to "pop up" over the ridge of the nose...which detracts from a smooth appearance. If you insist on using a chain in a "control-type" would be better to run the chain under the chin and up the right side of the halter. However, in our world of "miniature" equines where "control" is not an issue, a better choice would be to simply "loop" the chain portion of the lead shank through the center slot on the chin strap of the halter and attach the snap to the ring where the chain joins the leather!! 

Remember...just because the "proportions" of the halter are correct for your model...the design may not be the most flattering for your model’s head. The thickness of the leather...width of the straps...and placement and size of the silver give each halter a unique appearance. 

Here are some examples of common fitting problems and their solutions:

Crown strap is too long and the throatlatch is too short causing...1) the cheek piece to be much to low on the side of the head...and 2) the noseband to be too close to the nostrils!
Adjusting the crown strap to the proper length corrects the other "fit" problems with this halter.
Again...the crown strap has been adjusted much too long...causing 1) the throatlatch and chin strap/throatlatch connector to hang loosely under the head...2) the cheek piece to be out of position and 3) the noseband to be must too close to the nostrils.
Again...just by adjusting the crown strap correctly...all of the other "fit" problems of this halter have been eliminated.
Another example of the crown piece being adjusted TOO long...causing the halter to detract from the appearance of the model rather than "enhance" it!!
Simply by adjusting the crown piece correctly...the halter now is an attractive addition to the model.
A lovely halter that is just the wrong size for this model!! The crown strap is adjusted correctly...but the cheek piece is TOO long...causing the noseband to rest too close to the nostrils.
Another beautiful halter that is not appropriate for this model. There is no way to adjust the straps so the halter will fit the model correctly!!
Many thanks to Susan for allowing me to use her words and photographs!    Be sure to check out her website for more model horse showing tips.

Just a reminder--I am always looking for good guest blogger posts.  


  1. I love that article, it's been a huge help ever since I started tackmaking. I have a copy of that first photo printed out and taped to my wall above my desk.

  2. I'm not surprised you found it helpful--this is one of the clearest and most concise explanations of proper halter fit that I've ever come across. I knew a lot of my readers would have seen it before, but it's worth repeating nonetheless!

    And Emily, I love your halters! I'm tempted every time you put one up for sale!


  3. Excellent, excellent guest article. I wish every tack maker would read this a ton of times before they started to make a stock halter...

  4. As a performance judge, I DO look at how the chain is run through the halter ring, and in a Showmanship class, it is not appropriate to just loop it through the halter ring. Since we do emulate the real horse show ring, it needs to be done correctly, which is under the chin. (Most breed assoiations do not allow Showmanship entries to have their chains run over the nose.)

  5. "And Emily, I love your halters! I'm tempted every time you put one up for sale!"

    Aww, thank you! :)

  6. Thank you for posting this article! There is one thing that disturbes me a bit: The buckle of the crown strap (first picture). To me it looks a bit to close to the ear. Imagine the horse would flip the ear it would touch the buckle doesn't it?
    I think this position looks better:

  7. Now I am paranoid that my show halter doesn't fit right. (Even though I KNOW it does, lol.)

  8. Nice timing! I was just working on a western show halter for my Lady Phase. For reference I was using the scans in you taek won do post but this is also very helpful :D

  9. Great guest article! I am looking to do a showmanship set up and this helps out a lot!

  10. This is really helpful!A great follow-up to the post about using halters in the halter division.