When I see haltered horses in a field I cringe and then make two presumptions:
- Their owner can’t “catch” them.
- It’s only a matter of time before those horses hurt themselves.
Good owners invest time working with their horses so they like being around humans. It doesn’t need to be warm and fuzzy. But at the very least, one should be able to approach the horse without much fuss. Read about Not Catching Your Horse.
There are as many training techniques for approach and ‘catchability’ as there are clinicians, but most ideas come down to what Elijah Moore taught me years ago:
Horses seek comfort. If you can offer it to them on a reliable basis, they’ll come to you or at least let you come to them.
I used to think “field safe” or leather halters were ok. That was before I did a little research and came to the conclusion that any halter can get horses in trouble. Photo at left is featured on the home page of a major New England veterinary clinic (Proof that vets don’t know everything.)
Here’s a test:
- Take the plastic ring from a milk jug cap or a cheap bangle from your jewelry collection (sorry, guys!). Let those rings represent the rings on each side of a typical halter.
- Walk your field and scrutinize your barn space with these rings, running them across surfaces and sticking them everywhere, from ground level to over your head.
- Do they stick or get caught anywhere?
Chances are your fencing alone represents a big enough hazard for haltered horses.