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Halter Training

Kate Fenner - Sunday, February 24, 2013
Halter training is often the first real handling a youngster receives. From the trainers/handlers point of view it is quite a difficult lesson because the young horse has never been asked to do anything before, is already stressed if separated from it's mother, has a short attention span and is not capable of much physical exercise. On the other hand it is a great opportunity to set the youngster up for success, not only in this lesson, but for the rest of his life. This first encounter will be remembered so before you consider 'out muscling' the little fellow, consider what could go wrong. [caption id="attachment_53" align="aligncenter" width="225"]weanling horse Weanling after halter training[/caption] If the horse learns, at this early age, that he can run you down or pull away from you it will be difficult to un-train and he could remember it for many years to come. If, on the other hand, you take this first opportunity to teach the horse that you are going to put him under some pressure (here at first it is just emotional pressure of your presence) and that the pressure will be released when the horse finds the correct answer. Expect the horse to try many other possible answers before finding the correct one but remember you are teaching him to 'think'. He is learning to solve problems - 'if I stand still, the pressure goes away', 'if I put my head down, the pressure goes away' and so on. The weanling in these photographs is 4 months old. I don't think it is a bad thing at all to leave these youngsters until this age to halter them - as long as you make the lesson the best possible lesson he could have and that it is taken at the pace the foal can absorb. It is important that the horse is not tired at the end of the lesson and then just muscled into the halter. You need him to be thinking about the lesson and 'engage his brain' to realise that he didn't get hurt and actually received a lot of praise and attention. [caption id="attachment_54" align="aligncenter" width="300"]weanling in a halter Relaxed in the paddock after the lesson[/caption]

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