One of the training tools we’ve introduced to Zelda recently is a rope halter. I’d used on on Freedom in the past, as he could get a bit “frisky” in the spring and using a chain over a horse’s nose can be too harsh as it applies considerable force to a horse’s sensitive nasal bones and may not release that pressure quickly enough once the horse complies. When Freedom was behaving like a kite on a string, I didn’t want him to get injured
Compared to a conventional “flat” halter, a rope halter has a smaller diameter and is typically constructed with two or four knots. There’s no buckle or hardware — you simply tie the crown piece through a loop on the cheek piece of the halter (see the video below to learn how to tie one properly).
Rope halters were initially used mostly for Western disciplines, but there are advantages to using a rope halter for training that make it more common in all types of barn. Because the rope halter is designed to put pressure on a smaller area (compared to a strap), your cues can be more subtle and, if you’re dealing with a horse that gets a bit pushy, it’s harder for them to lean on the halter and avoid the pressure. The knots also provide a bit more emphasis to your commands..
Note: Rope halters are not meant to be used in turnout. In fact, you should never turn out a horse in a nylon halter as they will not break if the horse catches it on something solid. I prefer my horses to be turned out without any type of halter for this reason.
As for Zelda? She has responded well to it. I’ve been doing ground work with her and it catches her attention without offending her. Zelda is a sensitive soul and if she’s pushed too hard, it can look like a fight to her. You do not want to get into a fight with a 1400 pound horse. While she rarely misbehaves with me, we needed to find a solution that made her respect anyone who handles her, so the rope halter is a good step up.
Do you use a rope halter at all in your training?