How I Halter, Unhalter, and Lead a Horse: My Experience



Being able to halter your horse is a basic procedure. Being able to unhalter a horse is important too. Sometimes it’s not all that easy. There could be some head tossing and jerking away that could put your arm out of joint if you’re not paying attention.

When Did That Habit Start?

I haven’t had too much trouble doing either of these actions for quite some time. Then I noticed when I unhooked the rope and let go Poppy jerked her head away. I thought that was kind of rude of her. It wasn’t showing respect.

I immediately started working with her. When I take her bridle off she always puts her head down and she gently lets the bit fall out of her mouth. She then rubs her head and face against the railing as if to wipe away the feeling of the leather.

That’s the behavior I want when I remove the halter too. Don’t know where this head flinging and hurling came from. I suppose, somehow, I gave that signal and she learned it fast. Horses seem to be good at that.

It’s Time to Re-Teach:

When a horse learns the wrong way of doing something, it’s up to us to teach or re-teach the right way. This may take some time to relearn depending on how long the habit has been going on. Keep working at it and repeat as often as it takes to get the desired behavior.


I found this really good video to include here.  It’s detailed in its instruction and very well done.  Hope it helps.  Enjoy.

So back to putting the halter on with her head down quietly and turned slightly towards me, where I stand at her left side. I keep pressure on her until she holds her head where I want her to. Then release the pressure. This is where the horse learns to do the right thing.

When I take it off I reverse the moves. Her head is down and she holds it there as I unhook it and let it slip off. No more fast jerking to get away.

Where I Lead, She Should Follow:

With the halter and lead rope attached we are ready to walk to where we need to go. In my case it’s from her pen to the hitching rail where I can grab the curry comb and brush and groom her. My saddle and bridle are close by too.

I think a horse should lead from a little behind me. I don’t like to hold tight to the lead rope by the halter either. I like there to be some slack and we can walk along at a nice pace. When Poppy gets a little eager beaver and tries to go faster I stop and make her back up. I keep repeating this until she gets the idea to slow down and stop trying to run me over.

Sometimes a horse will decide he wants to go away from you. When Poppy thinks she wants to go a different direction from where we are headed, I do the stopping and backing, getting her attention on me and to what I want her to do. Then we can venture on to where we were going.

Thanks for stopping by my hitching post. Do you have any stories to tell about haltering and leading? I’d love to hear it and how you take care of any halter or leading problems. Please leave a comment or ask a question. I’ll do my best to answer.

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2 thoughts on “How I Halter, Unhalter, and Lead a Horse: My Experience

  1. Hi Judy. Thought I would stop by and take a peak at your site. It was fun to read about your first horses and now with your calm mare. Over the years when I was a child growing up with my family I had many different opportunities to ride and a few horses I called my own. My parents liked the idea of raising horses. So from BC (Vancouver Island) I remember one of my dads first trips to the US to meet a woman who had a stallion she wanted to lease. He was Tango, purebred Arabian and very high strung. However my parents both enthused and avid learners leased him, brought him up into Canada when it was relatively easy to transport an equine across a national border so long as you had a vet certificate. From that point in my childhood I was a part of horses for life. We bred, raised the offspring, one of which was our first filly as payment for caring for her stallion, She became our first purebred mare and we ended up foaling 1/2 a dozen offspring. I got to learn about bloodlines. Raising and training and showing, foaling. fencing, building barns, developing riding rings… local horse shows, gymcanas, organized Arabian showing associations, Wow.. you have triggered my memories. I grew up on the back of some of the smoothest gated smart to train Arabians and it offered us kids such a rich experience, on so many levels. Many of my friends envied me for having horses. I hated it at times because we never as a family once went on summer vacations. But in hindsight, I would never give up the things and memories I have and the wonderful experiences that a horse or two have contributed to helping me become.

    Thanks so much for creating this site. It has been a pleasure to visit. I can tell you are passionate about sharing your knowledge and I am sure you will assist many people to maintain their interest with horses. Great to meet you. Keep up the awesome work. I look forward to revisiting and going down memory lane. Teresa

    1. Hi Teresa,
      I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experience and feel a great pleasure in bringing back wonderful memories for you. I never got into the horse world as much as I’d like. Hence this blog is helping me in that area.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my site. I hope to do just as you mentioned, helping people to awaken an interest in horses or keeping that love alive. Great to meet you as well.
      Judy 🙂

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