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Horse Tack: Halters-Choosing The Best Type for Your Needs

Last updated: June 29, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

The right horse halter can make a world of difference. When your horse is fitted with the perfect one, it will be functional and comfortable, and safe when out on walks or at home in their stall. But how do you choose the right type?

The three primary types of horse halters are leather, nylon, and rope. I prefer leather halters, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. The kind you choose will depend on what it is that your horse needs at a given time.

Horse halters are a necessary piece of equipment for any barn, but it’s important to know which one is best suited for your needs. I’ll go over the different types, and what they do so you can choose with confidence!

Picture of a horse wearing a fancy halters.

Horse halters

The halter is the most used tack in a horse barn; it should be a top priority to purchase the best one available. With so many colors, sizes, and materials available, you’ll have no problem finding what’s perfect for your animal.

They come in all colors and sizes, and the popular material used to make them is usually leather or nylon. You can choose from breakaway styles or non-breakaway, which give you a broad selection to select for your animal.

They’re a great way to give your horse its personality and fashion style, but they also can help identify your animal quickly. Halters are also a great tool that aids in the training process.

Materials used to make halters.

When it comes to halters, you need to know your needs before purchasing one because you can use them for different tasks. Doing research ensures the perfect fit and helps prevents problems from arising!

While leather, nylon, and rope materials are the typical halters, there is a wide variety of different materials to choose from. Leather halters are more commonly used because they typically last longer and are practical.

Leather halters

Leather halters are great for turnouts as this material can break if the horse were to get caught on a fence post or a tree branch when I was growing up; my grandfather only allowed leather halters because of their ability to break.

He said a nylon halter could kill a horse; I thought he was paranoid. But years later, a horse boarding in a barn with ours got its nylon halter caught on a hook and hung itself.

Leather halters are functional, and you can find a wide variety of prices, so you can find one to fit your budget, and you can customize them with padding or other decorations to make your horse stand out from the crowd.

Picture of a young thoroughbred stallion.

Nylon halters

Nylon halters are cheap, durable, and easy to clean with soap and water. They also come in many colors. But they’re not suitable for horses to wear when you turn them out because they’re difficult to break.

Horses tend to rub their heads against fence posts, and if they wear a halter, they may get hung up. If you choose to use a nylon halter, you should always keep an eye on your horse just in case any emergency arises.

  • Pro-tip: You can turn any nylon halter into a breakaway halter by replacing a section with a leather breakaway fuse. Now you have a breakaway halter for a lot less money.

Rope halters/Training halters

Rope halters are often used for training horses using the pressure and release method, but they are not ideal for turnout and can cause your horse harm if not properly fitted. These halters are durable and robust and will not break if your animal gets stuck in an unfortunate situation.

Many horse owners don’t like using this type of halter because they are not as comfortable and can harm them. However, some may argue that rope halters allow better control, making the horse more responsive.

The pressure applied to the horse’s head can be excruciating and unpleasant for your horse as it localizes pressure in different areas of its face, causing them to be uncomfortable and feel frightened by the pain they are experiencing.

If you still choose to opt for this option, you should never leave it unattended. Make sure you ask a professional or someone who’s used rope halters before attempting to put them on alone, as this halter requires unique knots to secure them in place.

Picture of my horse wearing a nylon halter.

Types of horse halters

There are also specific types of halters, such as

Breakaway halters
• Grooming halters
• Shipping halters
• Convertible halter options

Breakaway halters

Breakaway halters typically consist of leather or a mix of cotton and nylon and are made to detach automatically if the horse gets stuck. These are great alternatives if you can’t supervise your horse at all times, as it decreases your horse’s chances of getting hurt.

Grooming halters

Grooming halters are only supposed to be used when grooming your animal as they are incredibly loose, made to allow brushes to reach underneath. You shouldn’t apply this halter while doing turnout or while handling your horse in the field as they can easily slip off, so keeping an eye on your horse while they have this halter is vital.

Shipping halters

If you plan to transport your horse, you should use the shipping halter when traveling in the trailer. These halters are similar to the breakaway halters and have additional padding that allows them to absorb moisture and helps protect the animals’ faces when transported.

Convertible halters

If you choose to go another route, you can find options such as converting some nylon halters into grooming halters. There are detachable paddings available to add to a leather halter if you choose to use it as a shipping halter.

Picture of a horse wearing a halter.

What kind of halter is best for horses?

While we already learned of the wide variety of halters available to us, many individuals will agree that leather halters are worth investing in for your beloved horse. They are one of the highest qualities you can find and the most durable of halters.

They are slightly pricier than the other alternatives, but only because they don’t break as quickly as the rest if you take care of them. Your horse will not only feel comfortable wearing them, but they will be safe.

Remember that every halter has its unique purpose, so you’ll need to know first what type of work you plan to use the equipment for before buying spontaneously.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry; I have gathered the top five best halters to ease the hassle of choosing the right ones.

These are just some of the halters rated the best for everyday activities with your horse.
The Majestic Ally halter provides a sturdy quality and sleek design, making it a great design overall.

However, the Knotty Girlz rope halter is popular amongst most trainers worldwide due to the stiff rope making it easier for it to hold its shape as its knot applies pressure points that help train horses.

If you’re looking for a halter that provides a quick and easy way to get it on and off, then you’ll be happy to know that the Weaver Leather basic halter offers just that. It consists of nylon material with brass plated hardware, featuring a sewn-in throat snap hook that allows you to remove the equipment with little hassle.

The Weaver Leather Diamond rope halter features a hand-knotted construction with a continuous 3/8″ poly rope and a double noseband with a crown strap. With this halter, you’ll get your money’s worth as it holds up well to weather conditions and sits nicely on your horse’s head, so they will feel comfortable while wearing it.

If you’re considering buying a halter for your everyday use with your horse, then the Touch 1 economy halter is your ideal one. It offers durability and comfort for your animal, and just as its name states, it’s economical, so you don’t have to anticipate spending too much on this style as it suits everyone’s budget.

What kind of halter is the most comfortable?

As we discussed above, these halter styles provide long-lasting quality and give you a sense of safety, and they’re comfortable for your horses. However, you can always choose the extra padding if you feel that the horse is uncomfortable wearing the halter.

Many equestrians feel uncomfortable wearing halters because they usually sit on the horse’s ears or nose, rubbing these sensitive areas, which causes them pain and discomfort.

When the horses feel the pressure of the halters, they tend to react if they feel pain or too much pressure, causing them to press into them as if pushing them away.

That is why you must make sure the equipment is the correct measurement for your animal’s size to avoid causing any pain or harm to your horse. You must also make sure the halter isn’t too tight on the horse’s head; it should fit snugly without the horse having issues breathing and moving its mouth.

If you’re unsure how to put the halter on correctly, you should ask someone who has experience with them to help you properly fit and adjust it if needed.

Picture of our two year old thoroughbred.

How to choose a halter?

For a young horse, I like a halter that is designed with multiple adjustments; the more, the better, because I want the halter to fit correctly and be comfortable. If a horse is used to halter, you want to choose one that fits it best.

When choosing a halter, make sure the crownpiece fits behind your horse’s ears without causing them any pain from pinching or rubbing, and the noseband section lays midway between the horse’s nostrils and eyes. There should be enough space between the strap and your horse’s nose to fit two fingers to ensure it’s not too tight.

It should sit comfortably and snug and should not fit too loosely around its face, as this can cause it to move around and damage its eyes. If it’s too tight, it can cause permanent scarring and in some cases, even bone damage.

Another thing to keep in consideration is that if your horse hasn’t been trained to wear a halter, you should take the time to teach them to get accustomed to the new sensation of the pressure on their face.

I suggest you start putting your horse in a halter when they are weanlings and no later than a yearling. You can start training them by putting on a lightweight halter at first to test it out to avoid the horse getting startled by the pressure.

Treat your horse with love and patience, and let them take all the time needed to get used to the halter before trying to apply pressure on them.

Doing so will allow your horse to feel more secure and more relaxed when using the halter. It will also enable your animal to trust you in the process and proceed with calmness.

Don’t feel ashamed to ask for advice if you need it; no one’s going to judge you for that, and you’ll be saving your horse some unnecessary pain and discomfort.

Below is a YouTube video showing how to put a halter and bridle on a horse.

YouTube video
Picture of my horse Mindy wearing a nylon halter.


How much money does a horse halter cost?

There are many different styles and materials to choose from when it comes to halters. There are nylon or rope halters for about twenty bucks, but if you’re looking for a more fancy show-style leather one, then the prices can reach $200 or more.

Can you ride a horse with just a halter?

You can ride a horse with a halter. But if you do, your horse must be well-trained. That way, they’ll respond to subtle cues and won’t become confused or anxious in the absence of a bit for guidance.