Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Cleveland TX
Great article on fitting a show halter
From the Yankee Pedlar-article by Julie Thorsen[Horse and Rider]
Fit To Show
How to Get the Most Flattering Fit From a Show Halter
By Juli S. Thorson
The perfect fit.
A silver show halter is much like an expensive party dress - too fancy for everyday use and worn only on special occasions. It should help the wearer fit in with a decked-out crowd, and do so in a flattering way.
If a dress or show halter is too big, too small, or fits sloppily, its purchase price is wasted because the impression left is the opposite of the one intended. The wearer might as well sport a sign saying, "I spent good money to look like I don't know what I'm doing."
Sadly, many novice halter and showmanship exhibitors hang such an imaginary sign from their horses. The novices haven't yet learned that it's not the pretty tack but the way it fits that makes a horse appeal to the judge.
This article will give you an automatic pass out of that self-defeating category. Learn the simple keys to properly fitting a silver show halter, and you won't waste the time and elbow grease necessary to get your horse otherwise fit to show. Instead, you'll know how to make your horse look like the belle of the ball.
As with an everyday nylon-web barn halter, a silver-trimmed leather show halter is constructed of eight straps connected by rings and buckles. You'll find it easier to grasp the nuances of show-halter fit once you've learned which strap is which.
* The nose strap crosses and bisects the bridge of the horse's nose.
* Two chin straps connect the nose strap to the lead-strap ring that rests beneath the horse's lower jaw.
* Two cheekpieces run up the sides of the horse's head.
* The crown crosses the horse's poll and is buckled into place once the halter's put on the horse.
* The throatlatch runs beneath the horse's throatlatch.
* The bottom connector strap runs from the throatlatch to the lead-snap ring.
Typically, a nylon barn halter has a single adjustment point. This buckle allows you to tighten or loosen the crown once you slide the halter onto the horse's head. Because a barn halter's purpose is strictly utilitarian, it really doesn't matter if the final fit flatters the horse.
A well-constructed silver show halter, however, has five points of adjustment, with buckles on each side of the crown, at the end of each chin strap, and on the bottom-connector strap. The five-piece construction allows you to fine-tune the halter's fit to the shape of an individual horse's head. In addition, strong, bendable wire inside the throatlatch piece allows you to shape that strap along the curve of his jowl.
Good-fit tip: Each adjustable strap should be buckled snugly against your horse's head. Otherwise, the halter flops as the horse moves, and shifts and twists when you apply pressure to the lead shank.
Sizing Things Up
Show halters are sized and labeled by horse age or gender. Common sizes tagged on new halters include weanling, small yearling, yearling, mare and horse, and the length of each component strap is cut accordingly when the halter is manufactured. The mare size is designed to fit a mature horse with a short, petite head and therefore will fit some male horses but not all mares.
Along with five adjustable straps, a show halter also has three straps that can't be adjusted. These are the nose strap, the two cheekpieces and the throatlatch. If these pieces are too short or too long for a particular horse's head, the faulty proportions distort the final picture. You won't be able to make the halter fit well, no matter how much you tighten or loosen the five adjustment points.
In addition to varying strap lengths, according to the designated size, a show halter's straps also vary in width from size to size; the smaller the halter size, the narrower the straps.
Weanling-size straps typically are 5/8-inch wide, while those for the small-yearling size tend to be 3/4-inch wide. Most regular yearling and mare-sized halter straps are a full inch wide. Widths for horse-sized halters run from 1 to 1 1/8 inches.
Good-fit tip: Resist buying a yearling-size halter for a weanling with the belief that you'll get two seasons' use from it. In a too-large halter, a weanling's head will appear misshapen enough for all your entry fees to be wasted.
Another good-fit tip: For a show halter to flatter your horse's head, its cheekpieces, after all buckles have been tightened, must rest parallel to the front plane of his face. If they angle back toward the throatlatch, his head will appear distorted.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Western Horseman.
SIDEBAR: Adjustment Steps
To determine if a specific halter is a good fit for your horse and to properly adjust it, follow these five steps. If you can't accomplish a step with the halter you're using, it doesn't fit the horse.
1. Tighten both sides of the halter's crown piece evenly until the nose strap rests snugly against the protruding bone marking the lower end of the facial crest. If the crown is the proper length, this adjustment will allow the nose strap to bisect the horse's face between eye and nostril in a flattering, proportionate way.
2. Check the location of the side ring that connects crown-strap buckle, cheekpiece and throatlatch. If the cheekpiece and throatlatch are the proper lengths, the side ring will rest just below the protruding bone between eye and ear to mark the juncture of jowl and throatlatch.
3. Step back to examine how the cheekpiece rests on the jowl. For proper fit, it must lie parallel to the line of the facial crest, forming a pleasing frame for the upper portion of the horse's face.
4. Shape the covered-wire throatlatch piece to follow the contour of the horse's jowl. Besides enhancing the jowl, this creates visual balance with the upper and lower portions of the face.
5. Complete the halter adjustment by snugging the chin straps, and by tightening or loosening the bottom connector strap to rest against the horse's head. Be sure, however, that you don't tighten the latter so much that it pulls the throatlatch piece across the plane of the jowl.