Turnout is a natural and healthy part of most domesticated horses' daily lives. It allows them to get social interaction and exercise. However, if you have a horse who is difficult to catch, you may have a hard time getting hold of your horse when you want to bring him in from the pasture. Leaving a halter on your horse can make him easier to catch, but it can also put him at risk while he is turned out. You can make a nylon halter safer -- but it is always best to turn your horse out without a halter.
Halters and Turnout
Leaving a halter on can be an option to make your hard to catch horse easier to get your hands on, but nylon halters can also cause significant hazards to a loose, unsupervised horse in the event that the horse gets the halter hung up or tangled on something. Horses have broken fences, gotten cut, scraped, banged up and even broken their necks after getting a halter stuck on an obstacle and panicking. Horses have been seriously injured and even killed after their halter became tangled on something in the pasture and no one was around to see what happened or to quickly remove the halter. It is generally considered poor horsemanship to leave a non-breakaway nylon halter on a horse who is turned out.
Nylon halters are tough, durable pieces of equipment that are really difficult to break. These qualities make nylon halters ideal for keeping hold of horses, which is their intended job. However, in an emergency situation a nylon halter is unlikely to break and difficult to remove quickly and safely. Leather halters are more expensive and do not hold up to abuse the way nylon halters do, but they are generally considered safer to use if you are going to turn a horse out in a halter because leather will break under extreme pressure.
Breakaway nylon halters are sold with pieces of breakable material worked onto the crown or cheek piece of the halter. Usually the breakaway section is a small chunk of leather that is designed to give way if enough pressure is put on the halter. This will set a tangled horse free if he struggles. You can purchase a breakaway halter for your horse to wear during turnout or you can modify a halter so that it will break under pressure.
Modifying a Halter
To modify your existing halter, you will need to cut through a section of the crown piece and attach a breakable section to take its place. A small leather strap is a good choice. You can attach the leather section by either sewing it to the halter or using a piece of latigo to tie it into position. Either way, if your horse gets tangled, he will be able to break the section and avoid serious injury.
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.