How to Halter an Unruly Horse

Some horses fear being haltered! Although haltering such a horse may seem impossible, with a little patience and understanding, it can be accomplished.


  1. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 1
    Get your horse in a safe working environment, a round pen is preferred, but, not necessary. A corral big enough to move your horse around in with you at a safe distance away is great.
  2. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 2
    Ask your horse to move off, depending on the horse. 3 times in one direction, then 3 in the other direction. Watch your horse, he`ll tell you when he wants to come in by: keeping an ear on you, tipping his head to the inside of the circle, dropping his head, licking his lips. When you see a sign that he is ready, ask him to stop. Go up to him at his shoulder only, as this is your safety area. Rub him all over his body, start moving up to the ear area. Retreat, repeat.
  3. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 3
    When your horse moves away from you without you sending him, change his direction and send him off, repeating the first step. Do this as much as necessary. Eventually, the horse will want to rest with you, when you can rub him all over with your hands, (rubbing ears, poll, forelock, etc) with him in comfort.
  4. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 4
    Talk to your horse in a calm voice. Rub, never pat (women & horses like to be rubbed, men and dogs, you pat) them on the head, gently stroking the withers or neck.
  5. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 5
    Make sure you can touch the horse all over with the horse remaining confident. If there are any spots on the horse (especially the head) that it objects to you touching, use an approach and retreat method. Use a rhythmic rubbing motion. When you have reached the spot where the horse pulls away or objects, retreat to a place where he does accept and then approach the spot again. Repeat until the horse accepts your touch and then stop to give the horse a release (this is the reward). Make sure all of the touchy spots are eliminated using approach and retreat.
  6. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 6
    Repeat this process with the halter, especially around the head. Approach and retreat while respecting his objections and then working past them. Remember to release the second the horse makes a change and accepts the halter's touch. This is very important.
  7. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 7
    Start asking the horse to drop his head by applying a little pressure to the poll. If the horse raises his head to the point you cannot reach the poll area, any place you can reach on his neck will be the place to start. As soon as you get the smallest give release, rub and praise. (This can take awhile but well worth the effort.) Now that the horse is dropping his head, start asking him to bend his neck toward you. Do this by placing your left hand over the top of his nose, to the other side of his face/check area, bring in toward your body. Remember to release on the slightest try on the horses part. This position is the safest place to halter, start rubbing the halter over face, retreat. Do this until the horse is comfortable.
  8. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 8
    Put halter on the nose area only, retreat, do this until the horse is comfortable.
  9. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 9
    Pull up to ear area, over poll, retreat, repeat until horse is comfortable.
  10. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 10
    Tie halter on, take it off, repeat several times until horse is comfortable with it. Now you can halter your horse.
  11. Image titled Halter an Unruly Horse Step 11
    Show the horse the lead-rope. Hook it while stroking the forehead slowly. Allow little slack in the lead-rope as you attempt to lead the horse.(About 18-24 inches, don`t choke up on them, this makes them claustrophobic, and puts you in danger.) If they try to trot or bolt, step to the side and pull sideways. This will upset their balance, and make it hard for them to run off.


  • The ears might be the hardest area.
  • 30 years of experience show the best results are achieved with patience and repetition. Always end the session on a good note, even if all you can touch it's neck. It may seem a small step to you but to the horse it may have been a leap. It takes time to build trust. These steps are good, basic guides - I like them. Safety First!
  • Spend the time! Don`t think you`ll get it all in one day. You may, but it depends on your horses capacity to learn. A week (at least) of work on this will ensure that the horse is going to be halter broke for the long run and easy to catch in the pen.


  • Stopping on a bad note reinforces that bad note.
  • Don`t lose your temper, you`ll lose what ever you gained.
  • When the horse is excited or scared, never: box it in, tie it up, or yell at it.
  • Stay at a 45 degree angle to the horses shoulder, this is the safest point.
  • Stop on a good note!
  • Never stand directly in front of the horse.

Things You'll Need

  • your unruly horse
  • a halter
  • time, about 10-20 minutes a day

Article Info

Categories: Horses