Halter and Lead Rope Factors

Amy Skinner is the owner of Essence Horsemanship and a frequent BestHorsePractices contributor. She teaches and trains from her base in Boyne City, Michigan.

Skinner reviewed the 4-knot halter with lead rope from Knotty Girlz.

Read more about Knotty Girlz here.

Read additional halter post here.

Enter “Cayuse” when ordering and receive 10 percent discount.

Skinner writes:

4 Knot halter

4 Knot halter

When I teach in a clinic or am helping a new client, often I am presented with a horse in ill-fitting or poorly made equipment.  A halter that doesn’t fit well or a poorly made rope, especially one that is too light or doesn’t have the right weight to it, can make a huge difference in feel.  It may sound silly, but if you have a 1,000-pound animal on the other end of a lead rope and the only way you have to communicate it is through that rope, then I want that rope to feel pretty nice and have a great feel to it.

When the choice is mine, I’m pretty particular about what types of halters and ropes I work with. I don’t like to mess around with my own horses and equipment.

So when I received my Knotty Girlz halter and lead rope in the mail, I was glad to see it was beautifully made.  The lead has just the right weight to it – not flimsy and with just enough give to make it easy to manipulate.  It has a wonderful leather popper on the end that adds balance to the weight and overall look. It came in black with bits of blue braided into it.  The halter itself is stiff, providing a good firm feel for a horse, and it has a nice splice.  I appreciated that there were no clips or metal on the halter as well, having seen lots of clips whack chins and metal tails hit horses’ eyes.

halt2The only downfall to the halter was its four knots.  Though well made and of nice quality, four knots for me is overkill.  [Please note: Knotty Girlz makes 2-knot halters and custom halters, too.] The nerves on a horse’s face are sensitive. A lot of damage can be done even with two knots.  The knots seemed too severe and stiff for my liking.

When considering a rope halter purchase, know that four knots don’t tend to stay in place as easily as two. They dig in more easily, which means that every jiggle of the lead rope and every slide of the halter may translate to a “bite” on the horse’s sensitive facial tissues.

Knots aside, the halter and lead are beautiful and fun to handle.  Equipment doesn’t make a good horseman or woman, but bad equipment can sure get in the way or be downright dangerous.  So for Knotty Girlz’ expertly braided and spliced halters and leads, I was appreciative.  It doesn’t hurt that the products are made in America either.

Amy’s word on web halters:

Web halters are hard to work with and hard to communicate to the horse with lightness.  Web halters are made thick and wide, and often fit around the jaw and chin loosely, which gives too much “wiggle.”  Because of their thickness, it is necessary that more be done with the lead rope than necessary, giving sort of a muddy feel.

Another feature not conducive to lightness are the clips just below the chin of a web halter.  Any jiggle or sudden movement from the lead rope can result in banging the horse’s chin, which can be pretty abrupt and discouraging.  I much prefer the feel of a good rope halter or lariat rope, which allows me to convey direction, speed, and proper flexion with much less confusion and better results.

Enter “Cayuse” when ordering and receive 10 percent discount.

Read more about Knotty Girlz.

Read additional post on halters, lead ropes, and the sense of touch.

Web halter and web halter with chain over nose. YIKES!

Web halter and web halter with chain over nose. YIKES!




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  1. I understand your points about both styles of halters regarding communication for training purposes and like rope halters as well. What about transportation? Would you use a rope halter when hauling horses? Or, would you return to a web halter for that purpose?

    • For transportation I use the web halter with no metal bits that could injure the horse. Otherwise the rope halters are great for training along with a yachting type rope for a lead and line. Keep it pure and simple!

  2. When it comes to trailering I generally haul my horses loose. Some people haul in a web halter because they like to be able to use quick releases in case the horse pulls back. I think that if a horse is educated in tying, he should not pull back regardless of equipment. For this reason, I prefer to haul my horses loose so they will not get hung up in case of emergency. If I do tie them I still use a rope halter with a quick release knot.

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