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Halterbreaking a Headshy Colt
WRITTEN BY: Cheryl Sutor   [Nov. 11, 2000]

Training Question:

I have a four month old colt who needs to be halter broke. He is very friendly and will let me touch him everywhere except for his head. When I put any type of restraint on him he gets scared and runs off. Could you give me any ideas on how to do this without scaring him. I don't have a round pen but I do have a barn that I could work with him in. Should I lock him up and just corner him and put it on?
From: Jamie

Trainer's Response:

Forcing the colt into anything will only break down the trust between you and him. You need to use a method that will build trust between the two of you. To put it into terms that you might understand a little easier...Let's say you are afraid of snakes (just like the colt is afraid of haltering). Now, let's say your friend wanted to get you over your fears of snakes, so she ties you up in a chair and drapes all sizes and types of snakes over your legs, arms, head and waist. What would happen to the trust you had in your friend? It would go straight down the drain, wouldn't it!

This is the reason you should not force a horse into doing anything he is not yet ready to do. Since this colt is not yet ready to accept his fears and allow you to halter him, you'll need to start in an area that he does trust and accept without fear, and work up from there.

To learn how to do this, read our Sacking Out & Haltering article that was posted in September. You must read and apply the techniques in that article before continuing on to the methods below! Once you have competed that training with the colt, you will be able to walk right up to him in any situation, and put the halter on him without any fuss.

Next, you can begin to teach him to "give to pressure". This is the basis of properly halterbreaking any horse. You can learn how to do this by reading our article: Halterbreaking Basics. Make sure you follow the instructions in that article very precisely.

If you can be patient and consistent at all times, you'll both be off to a great start!

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This article was published on: Nov. 11, 2000. Last updated on: Nov. 11, 2000.