The Debate


“Do we do it when they are really young, wait until they are weaned or when they are ready to be broken in?..

These are the three beliefs………

If You had seen the trauma and injuries ( including broken Legs and ruptured Guttural Pouch, that I have seen, You would quickly understand why I have written this and attempted to turn Halter Training around in our Country



I often hear and read the debate about when we should be halter breaking the foal. Being a very analytical type, I examine with great interest, every system of Horse Training that anyone likes to invent, re-invent and these days, even the systems of ‘Days gone by’

I therefore base this article upon a number of years of experimentation and observation of the career of the foals going forward, particularly looking for the positives or negatives that impact upon their lives and those of their owners’. This is what I have found and these are my arguments to back those opinions up.




      • The ‘Natural Horsemanship’ systems of taking a feel, focus, savvy, passive persistence and so on or
    • Then there is the underlying resistance which comes to the surface in times of trouble, danger, panic or fear.
    • and this is what separates the vast majority of horses from the others.. True lightness in every way, all of the time and regardless of the issue. Some examples then:
    • Your horse is tied up solid and I walk past cracking a stock whip or get dressed  in a Gorilla suit. Do they pull back or do they jump around in fear but staying within the bounds of the end of the rope and to give to pressure no matter what the danger?
    • You have your horse tied solid but too long. It puts the font leg over the rope, lifts the head and goes into panic attack mode, pulling back violently.
    • Your horse gets it’s leg through the mesh of the gate, is stuck. It pulls back, ripping the hoof off or, does it stand, waiting for 2 hours for the owner to come and release it?


Yes, it was halter broken, it leads well (most of the time) but it will react negatively should any of the events described above happen.



The future protection of the safety of the young horse then, is found in my opinion, in the reversal of the ‘flight response’. The complete cancellation of it. It is the biggest danger to the domesticated horse and it is the one thing that is responsible for the many heartaches experienced for so many reasons.


Should Veterinary treatment be required, you can actually do it!!!

They wean easier, the frantic dangers can be controlled to their benefit and protection and above all, they are the only horse that can truly be floated for the first few times without a real and present high danger of them leaping over the chest bar and many other disastrous outcomes.



Ever wondered why there are so many crooked legged horses in this World? The normal reason given is that it is the fault of the Stallion, then the Mare. Well I can tell you it is the fault of the owner, who failed to correctively trim the hooves of the foal from Birth, 14 days and then every 21 days at the minimum and often at every 14 days. I see foals born with incorrect angles of the hoof. They hit the ground with those hoofs. If it helps any of the readers’, our Vet trims them at 5 days. The crookedness of legs, caused by incorrect hoof growth and angles, is the cause of the vast majority of crooked legs in horses. So how do you carry out that important responsibility if you halter break at weaning time?? Do tell



If caught early, these can be influenced before the pedal Bone sets in place. 6 Weeks is too late!!!!





      • I have found, that horses that were halter broken as foals, with the correct GH systems, experience far less grief during the process. Far less fight, far less risk of injury and skin off.
    • Provide a faster process, a more co-operative mind in all respects and a lightness of the mind that gives a far greater lightness of the mouth than more resistant horses.
    • They tie up immediately, there is no risk, they shoe better than other horses and they lead regardless of the challenges faced.
    • Are more economically viable




and finally, the thing called respect. Respect equals a smooth ride throughout the life of the horse. Not a problem horse, not the drama I read about daily. Respect to never kick you or the kid that walks up at the Show and hugs the back leg of your horse. Respect with ground manners, respect to walk into a float when told and not to say ‘No, make me’ You just would not believe the benefits.




    • The Bum Rope system is another technique that is widely used. It works, they get halter broken but they are never truly halter broken with this system. They can never be truly light. The reason for this is that they are moving away from the rope because it is touching the ticklish bum. Yes, they move, you move, they are leading but they have not learnt the big lesson, that of giving and lightening to pressure via the rope and the halter. It does not and can not eliminate the ‘NO’ in the foal, given the first encounter of the frightening path ahead. This system has no relationship with the next hurdle, that of tying the foal up and will never produce a foal that will accept the process without the risk of fight and injury. Further, given the fact that a huge percentage of people faced with the halter breaking being classed as amateurs’, the last thing they need added to the equation is the bum rope system. They face enough danger of severe injury as it is without a foal that is not halter broken to start with, adding the scoot past the owner because of the rope with the marked increased in risk of pulling the foal over onto the back of it’s head. My system eliminates such risk and keeps it simply.
  • Whip system. Once again, yes, the foal will learn to move forward off a whip but that is all it is doing. It will give the same result as the system above.


I could have written a Thesis on this subject but I resist.




    • How do you Show your Warm Blood Mare and Foal for the ACE or other registered Warm Blood Societies if they are not halter broken? and
    • How do you check the inside of the mouth of your foal for correct Dental formation or if things need attention?
    • How do you worm the foal at 6 weeks? How do you give it Tetanus and Strangles at 3 months? Terrorize the hell out of and jump on it?
    • How do you put it in a Horse Float to go to a Show or the Vet? What if Mum has to go to the Vet, the foal has to go too. What if the foal is 8 weeks old. Forget it!!! Well perhaps the Vet will end up having to come to the foal.!!!. What if a Bush Fire is coming and you have to Float them away????




I have been asked about the risk of skeletal damage being caused by halter breaking foals at a young age. I am yet to see this. I do however, see broken necks, fractured skulls, broken back legs and the like, due to the weight to fight ratio. When done early, they do not have the strength to cause such damage imho.




One must make a decision and strike a balance. I know the risks associated with late halter breaking but I have never seen the risk of injury due to the young age. I therefore come down on the side of the latter




Farriers put their lives at risk every day. They get injured regularly and even killed. I make the point that none of our horses, have ever attempted to kick or been anything other than perfect to shoe for the farrier. That is because they had their feet and legs handled as young ones and from that day on, they learnt that they can never dislodge a farrier, so why try. It is called responsible horse ownership. I know the farriers of this World will agree.


p class=”auto-style1″ align=”left”>In Europe, a huge proportion of them are halter broken in the first week and they even take the Mare to the Dressage Comp and leave the foal boxed. The one in the photo included.

Here are some of my Clients:


** Halter Breaking the Foal DVD here





Halter Starting the Foal from Horseproblems Australia on Vimeo.



2020 – Horseproblems Foal and Weanling