How do I select and fit a halter?
Great question, it seems so simple!! The halter is your first (and sometimes only) safety feature, so it's wise to get it right from the start.
A couple of halters per horse gives you an excuse to go shopping and also a "rainy day" halter that you don't mind getting muddy.
I prefer all leather halters, they break when they need to and they look nice, too. They will last a lifetime if cared for, and as Grooms we should be able to manage that! Nylon halters are harder to clean, unsafe if they do not have a breakaway leather crown piece, and can fade over time. However, nylon halters are more budget friendly and certainly can work if they have the leather crown piece.
Most halters are labelled suckling, weanling, foal, pony, cob, horse, warmblood, or draft. This gives you a starting place for size. If you can, bring along your old one to compare.
When the halter is on, it should rest and stay resting on the poll, just behind the ears. If it slips down the neck, you won't have control and the crown piece should be adjusted shorter. You may also need to adjust the noseband.
For the rest of the halter, you can check fit with two fingers. Two fingers below the bony point of the cheek is where the noseband should be. You should also be able to fit two fingers under the noseband and the throatlatch.
The crown piece may have buckles on both sides, in which case they should be on about the same hole for symmetry and balance. Often nosebands are adjustable, also, and the two finger guideline will show you how tight to adjust.
You can see in the photo above this horse's halter is too long in the crown piece and too loose in the throat latch. (For demo purposes only, this is my pony and he's wearing his bigger brother's halter to show you what not to do.) I could make this one work in the crown piece by adding some holes, but that won't fix the throat latch so easily.
Nylon and rope halters should fit in the same manner as leather ones.
This properly fitting bridle is adjusted to allow for travel fuzzies.
Now, if you are going to be adding some sheepskin fuzzies to make your everyday halter a shipping halter, please be sure use a halter that has an adjustable noseband also to accomodate the fuzzies on the noseband, crownpiece, and throat latch. Then you are good to go!