Saturday, June 14, 2008

How to remove your horse’s halter after he’s bridled up

I’m one of those people that doesn’t like a horse to be wearing his halter under his bridle. To me, it’s the equivalent of wearing socks with sandles - it just doesn’t look right, and it can’t be very comfortable. But maybe you have a green horse who won’t stand still while you bridle him, so you’ve got to leave the halter on and put the bridle over it. Or maybe you’re tacking up at a trail head where there’s a lot of commotion and you can’t take the chance of your horse getting loose while you put his bridle on. Or maybe you just plum forgot to take the halter off before you bridled him up. Whatever the reason, here’s a really easy way to get that halter off after the bridle is on. (Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.)

This is Lyle wearing his halter under his bridle. How tacky. Notice that I have not yet buckled the throatlatch on the bridle.

Step 1: untie the rope halter

Step 2: drop the tail of the halter on the other side of his head

Step 3: This part sounds complicated but it’s REALLY easy, so don’t panic. We’re going to take the noseband of the halter down his nose, into his mouth, over his tongue, behind the bit, back over his tongue, out of his mouth, under his chin, and over the curb strap if the bridle has one.

Here’s a little map of where that noseband will travel.

Ready? Here we go. Down his nose and into his mouth.

Behind the bit, then back out of his mouth.

Under his chin.

Over the curb strap, and ta-da! It’s off!

But here’s a list of precautions before you try this with your horse:

1. If your horse has bridling issues (tosses his head, doesn’t like his head handled, or otherwise gives you a hard time) DO NOT TRY THIS. Your horse isn’t ready to have yet one more thing going on in an area where he doesn’t like you to be.

2. Practice putting the halter’s nose band in and out of his mouth without the bridle/bit in place. You want him to get used to the feel of it in his mouth and on his tongue.

3. Untie the lead rope and drape it over your arm before you remove the halter. If you didn’t follow precaution #1 and your horse isn’t used to the feel of the noseband in his mouth, he might move around while you’re trying to remove the halter. Your hands will be busy getting it out of his mouth and you don’t need to be worrying about untying your quick release knot mid-removal. (In other words, do as I say, not as I do - I left Lyle tied when I took these pictures, which was stupid and unsafe.)

Happy trails.


  1. Another great photo tutorial!

    Thanks. You make it look like a piece of cake. :)

  2. I know I'm woefully ignorant of horses in most areas, but I have actually done this procedure!

  3. Great pictures and info. What a good boy to help you out with all this stuff hope he got extra treats for being a model horse.

  4. Great step by step pictures, Linda. The halter behind and under the bit part does look a bit daunting to me though, lol! ;) How does that step work with a web nylon halter?
    I always leave my horse's halter on under the bridle on the trail. And I leave a lead rope attached. You never know when you might need them, even if you need to loan them to someone else on the trail, or use the lead rope as a spare rein... We also have hitching posts and human potty stops along our trail, so it is nice that I can tie him and not have to have someone else in my party hold their own horse and mine.
    When I do this, I am always careful to make sure that the bridle and halter are not connected or tangled or appearing to cause an uncomfortable rub.

  5. Pony Girl, I've never tried this with a web halter, but it should work just the same.

  6. "How tacky"? Seriously?
    Well, I guess I don't know if it's your fault for putting in the pun, or mine for noticing it when it wasn't intentional. But really!

    (Hi, by the way. I read one of your comments at P-dub's today, about old gloves, and have been reading your archives ever since. Love your writing, love your animals!)