Halter breaking a young horse can be a fun and exciting experience for the owner, the trainer and anyone else within a mile of the barn. Seriously though, it can be calm and peaceful, with very little drama. Or, it can be like my first time…
The young filly was barely three months old but there was a fire in her eye and she pranced around her pen with all the snootiness of a princess, head and tail held high, defiance in her countenance. I had worked with her mother on occasion and the same traits were there. So dainty and pristine she appeared as I approached her. My instructions were to grab her head her tail and hold on. So I did. The princess did not like having her head and tail grabbed by anyone, certainly not by some young rough who did not hold her in the proper esteem. It is amazing, the power and force of will that God has placed within all of us. No where had I seen greater evidence of this than in this baby at this moment. She literally dragged me down the side of the stall, scraping my hands horribly on the rough oak planks that were the walls. She proceeded across the back and up the other side till I was bleeding profusely. Rather than let her kill me, the observers thought it would be helpful to open the stall and let her run through the barn. To my credit, I did hang on and finally succeeded in knocking her to the ground. I lay on the demoniac and shouted for someone to get a halter on her. Then amidst kicking and what, in horse language at least, was probably very unladylike language extricated myself and stood up. I took hold of the lead rope and the princess stood to her feet. She was not done. I gently pulled on the rope and she kicked and writhed in a fit of wrath and wounded pride. After she calmed down, I pulled again. Same result. We decided to loop a second rope over her rump to give her something else to think about. She leaped into the air, then reared on her hind legs and took off again. Now, at the time, I weighed in at about one-hundred and twenty five pounds, and she about pulled me off of my feet. It took hours to get her to calm down and trust me. There are certainly better ways to do this. And maybe she would’ve liked someone that was closer to her royal status asking these things of her. But eventually we became friends. I was able to put on and remove her halter, touch her hooves, legs, face, back, move her around, put blankets on her and yes, she even allowed a rider on her back. I was there when her first foal was born and saw her paraded around in all her finery. She became a beautiful, wonderful horse, dark bay coloring, stunning.
What does it take to turn a horse to something truly beautiful and amazing. I think it can be summed up in three words.
A willing heart.