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In looking at the pictures of the new draft horse calendar you will see that most horses do not wear halters underneath bridles, some of them even in obviously normal working situations. While I know that this a question of style, especially for shows and public appearances, I wouldn't recommend that practice in general. Too much can go wrong and if one has to tie the horses somewhere, a bridle is usually not the appropriate and safe thing to do it with.

Redgate says 2015-12-20 17:31:32 (CST)

Although I'm a newbie to driving, I am no newbie to horses in general. I think there are several reasons folks do it.

For myself, I've always preferred the look and fit of the bridle with no halter. I also tend to use rope halters a lot for training, and a good stiff rope can potentially rub a sore spot under a bridle. Second, when I drive, the way our farm is set up, once I've left the hitching post, there is really no place else for me to tie anyway in most cases, so having a halter doesn't benefit me. I know it's not the case for many, but I almost always have my husband assisting with tasks, so once I'm in the seat, I never get down. He does all work on the ground. Finally, I do like to teach my horses to ground tie or stand over time, and although I would never choose to tie by the lines in a normal situation, I do introduce the horses to tying by riding with mecate style reigns and simply looping the rope end over a post (not tying), just so a slight pull will add enough friction, but not necessarily pull on his mouth. It's just part of overall, well-rounded training since you just never know what might happen.

That all being said, if I am doing something where I will be doing a lot of off/on/switching out/or whatever, then I will leave a flat web halter on for safety and convenience. If we are in public, I will often carry a halter and lead in the wagon with me, just in case it is needed for some unforeseen reason.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Wes Lupher says 2015-12-20 17:34:24 (CST)

I had to chuckle at this.
Carl Heth disagreed emphatically with that the last time it was brought up!

Couldn't agree more Klaus. I work a long way from the barn and tie a team up frequently during a day. It's just more convenient (and safer in my opinion ) than slipping bridles on and haltering.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Uncle Joe says 2015-12-20 20:11:53 (CST)

Met a lot of teamsters who feel the same way as you, Klaus, and many who don't. As a photographer and publisher of photos of draft horses in harness, it is a common topic. We, ourselves, never bridled over halters on my dad's farm and my father always sought photos that did not have horses with halters beneath their bridles.

He gradually and grudgingly allowed photos with bridles over halters in photos of horses working on the farm or in the woods. But he felt a team at a field day, public demonstration or performance should be bridled with no halter beneath it. That's pretty much how I feel, too, though neither of us would second-guess what a teamster did with his or her horses.

I remember that when I met the skilled and thoughtful teamster Les Barden about six years ago, he told me he stopped buying our draft horse calendar when he saw horses with halters under their bridles in a photo. And Les had worked a lot of horses in his time and was a very accomplished teamster.

Certainly a nice dark leather halter under a bridle is less indecorous than a bright nylon halter.

I have often felt that a bridle over a halter does not fit as well as one that has no halter beneath it. And, in that situation, may be easier for a horse to rub off during a public event.

I understand the logic for using a halter to provide safety and I don't second guess what someone does with their horses.


3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Dris Abraham says 2015-12-21 08:54:01 (CST)

I am of the school of no halters under bridles. It is a training issue for us. I want my horses to be under control and be stand agianst to fence and/or trees. That being said, to each his own. When i started and where i started it was a sign they werent broke or teamster was new. Better do what gets you home to supper in one piece!

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Wes Lupher says 2015-12-21 20:05:41 (CST)

That's true Dris and Uncle Joe, and I do have plenty that stand and stand well. I have a little video of my 3 and 4 year old team parked while I'm loading hay on the wagon with the tractor. Never flinched.
But some years ago I watched a team and wagon leave fast when a moose popped out of the brush right by them. Gives you a sinking feeling.
Sometimes working on the ranch I might get stuck pulling a calf, etc and be a couple hours away from the team unexpectedly. Just want my outfit safe and sound til I get back.
On top of that it seems like I'm perpetually working colts.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2015-12-21 22:00:43 (CST)

I am not too dogmatic about a lot of things, certainly not about the question of bridles and/or halters, that's why I used the qualifiers " in general "and " usually" in my post. And I am aware of the sentiments about style, not the least since I think I have had Draft Horse Calendars since at least 1990.
However, the discussion reminds me a little bit of the time when I was training teachers and sometimes in a discussion about teaching approaches and methods I would have to remind the participants( a bit sarcastically I admit) " that there was no method that would prevent the best and brightest students from learning", but that we would have to think about how the average student taught by an average teacher would do. When I recommend something I do not have in mind how the most experienced teamsters with really good teams can get through situations, but how the average driver may best handle things. In addition to that I want to advise people not to make assumptions about the skill level of team or teamster when they see the presence or absence of halters under bridles , in either direction, such as " oh, there are no halters under the bridles, that must be very good horses/ a very good teamster" or " oh, there are halters underneath, that points to inexperience of team and/or driver". The difference is how prepared we want to be for unanticipated situations or risks or also what the situation may require. If you have to park your horses often during the day, as Wes points out, and you have no help you might in advance want to think about how you'll handle that safely. I for example most of the time have additional lead ropes along when I am working with the horses even when close to the farm.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Carl says 2015-12-22 08:31:17 (CST)

I grew up in an area and in an era when no self-respecting teamster would be caught dead with a halter under the bridle. People from years gone by routinely dropped the halter when bridling their horses. Just look at all the J. C. Allen photos. Over time, being slovenly has replaced good grooming in more ways than one. There is nothing more sloppy that having a nice looking team, good harness, and a ratty old halter under the bridle. I would compare that to someone who is wearing a nice suit with dirty, scruffy shoes. People make all kinds of excuses for their actions such as saving time but it only takes about 5 or 10 seconds to drop the halter and no one could possibly be in that big of a hurry.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Dris Abraham says 2015-12-22 09:26:09 (CST)

Wes,you are correct. We always carry a devise that we came up with some 20 years ago to tie a team for all the reasons you describe. I do not give away all my secrets on line! I too have had a team or two leave and it is a very bad feeling when they go. Most go back to barn, however their path might not be my first choice. We cannot teach everything. One surely cannot read nor view this art, they must learn it hands on. I am very leary of answering a question that has so many variables contain therein. Klaus, you are missing my point. I grew up in a very horse competitive region. Nothing i said was meant to dimish anyone but simply a fact of the business.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Redgate says 2015-12-22 10:18:58 (CST)

Well said, Klaus! I once heard a saying that is so true.....

There is a big difference between a horseman with 20 years experience, and one with 1 year of experience for 20 years in a row!

In our first 2 years with our team, we experienced a few doozies--one of which was a bit too "close call" for comfort. Dris made us feel better when he said, "Every new teamster makes a few bad decisions as they learn, and most of us survive to tell about it and learn from it!" We are certainly learning more every day with our horses!

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Andy Daniel says 2015-12-22 10:41:39 (CST)

I have enjoyed this post found it very interesting. Growing up I never saw anyone with a halter except in books and pictures. It was a bridle or nothing. I keep the halter on under my bridles, but now I may try it without.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Charles Ezernack says 2015-12-22 18:34:23 (CST)

I have often wondered why a combination of two was not made. I keep a halter under my bridle just feel safer. Was at riding club saw a horse spook it tied with the reins was not pretty.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Dan in Illinois says 2015-12-22 19:32:08 (CST)

I never have a halter on saddle horse and always have one on a harness horse only based on tasks at hand. If I worked a horse a lot with out the need to tie I would not have a halter on.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2015-12-22 22:03:21 (CST)

The halters I used in Bavaria were a combination of both, or let's put it like this, the bit ( snaffle or Liverpool kind) could be attached to the halter and so one always had something sturdy to tie the horses up with.
(My step-daughter will be here on Xmas and she can post a picture for me then. I am just not that savvy with this technology. Maybe she can teach me how to do it.)
If it's only an issue of aesthetics then Joe had a good suggestion, use a halter of the same material and color under the bridle . If it's a question of style and pride, that wouldn't be a solution, but why should style or tradition for that matter be a hindrance to good practical solutions ? Show situations of course are different but these do usually not have to be handled alone nor would they require the horses to be standing without supervision.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Robert Sutton says 2015-12-23 07:42:56 (CST)

Before asking this question I want to state I don't have near the experience a lot of you have. We annually attend a celebration at an Amish community. If you bring your team and participate in events you are given a "prize" usually halters or some useful piece related to teams. This time we were given lead ropes with two snaps and an eyelet. You can adjust the eyelet, it screws into a barrel on the rope. You place the rope around the horses neck and snap the snap in the end of the rope into the eyelet. the second snap then snaps onto the horse's bit. You can then tie the team up without halters. My question is has anyone used these and what do you think of them?

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Redgate says 2015-12-23 14:37:10 (CST)

I have seen our local Amish use a set up similar to what you described to tie--essentially forming a collar around the horse's neck. They've done this longer than I have, for sure, but then again, their horse's safety and comfort is always their priority I've found. It's more about practicality. But, again, my experience is limited with them. I notice when they tie horses for longer periods, they remove the bridle and tie with a halter. I would worry the rope would strangle the horse if not set up correctly, but if so, I would be concerned they would break something and get loose. That's not a good thing either.

It is interesting they don't have a halter/bridle combo like is used in the riding world. Those are an easy answer to the problem, and I would use one of those in a heartbeat. I do appreciate having blinders for our purposes, though, or I would consider just purchasing one for riding.

For the record, for almost any tying we do, we have a new joke around here that everything must be "Bill proof." We had a horse that had apparently learned to break loose before we got him. EVERYTHING we tied him to was tested, he pushed on stall rails, fence panels, you name it. He untied his ropes, collapsed welded wire fence, and did pretty much as he pleased. He was a good work horse, but knew how big and powerful he was, and kept us on our toes. He was a good lesson for us though, and from then on, we ensured anything we built could withstand reasonable pressure from him (or a 1-ton pick!) We electrified all our fences and top rails to ensure he couldn't lean on them. We built our hitching post out of telephone poles, buried 4 feet down and in concrete, and covered in a metal plate so the horses can't chew it. I hate constantly tying and untying ropes when we move around, so I use Blocker tie rings. For most of our horses, they work well as designed (a simple loop), so I have these chained onto the hitching post in a way that the horses can slide them around. For the more escape-prone horses, I tie a little differently, but still effective and easier than the constant working with ropes. I love those rings!! I have extras to install on my trailer when I get a chance. I also replaced all our lead rope snaps with bull snaps rated to 2500 lbs (the most heavy-duty I could find). It was no bigger than standard, but heavier-duty. The good news is that by the time Bill left here, he hadn't been able to break free from anything in almost a year (since shortly after we bought him), so he got out of that mindset for the most part.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Wes Lupher says 2015-12-23 15:48:06 (CST)

Like I said, Carl disagrees vehemently!

Really no need to get nasty, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I believe that everyone is...including myself.

In the area I grew up in we treat people with respect.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2015-12-24 08:24:39 (CST)

Danielle, it's heart-refreshing to see how you and your husband have made any challenges into learning opportunities. And your reports can now help others to make very sensible improvements!

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2015-12-26 12:43:30 (CST)

I don't know the heck what Amanda, my step-daughter is doing, but she somehow managed to get the picture I wanted on the post( I hope!). It shows how we just used halters and then threaded the bit chains through the rings on the halter.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2015-12-27 14:14:30 (CST)

I have certainly done it both ways. In a show ring certainly not.When I was working with teams or singles, it was usually by myself and with green animals that certainly need to be tied when working around them putting harness on or adjusting it, so a halter was necessary.

The thing that comes t mind most though is working away from home. That instant where you would drop the halter or bridle to putt he other on is only an instant ,but n that instant the animal can get away, leaving you on foot. Worse yet if it is attached to some equipment and it takes off resulting in damage to the equipment or someone else's property.

Transfer the same line of thinking to a saddle animal.I do a lot of hunting and I leave the halter on under the bridal. I might get on and off 10-15 times during the day to check out areas and and I don't want to take the chance of having animal getting away from me as I am switching out head gear. Especially when I am10-15 miles away form the trail head .If I am out pleasure riding where I might do 10-15 miles with out stopping,very likely ,I won't have a halter on.

To say that is is slovenly though shows a person hasn't encountered problems that others have daily. I have nerer let tradition get in the way of safety.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Carl says 2015-12-28 13:03:46 (CST)

Vince, no one should ever drop a halter or bridle while the horse is hooked to some equipment. Never. However, it isn't necessary to remove the bridle in order to remove the halter. Just unbuckle (or untie) the halter, slide it down and take the nose piece through the mouth in behind the bit, and the halter is removed.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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