Also my friend Amy asked me once to describe my routine with haltering , (She asked when Dandy was a foal, so sorry Amy , better late than never?)
I haven't talked much about Harley and his halter training etc ,not because it didn't go well, but more because it wasn't changing much.
Everyone has a different routine and style when it comes to handling foals. I,as a general rule don't mess with them a whole lot before weaning, call it a lack of time or motivation,but it is what it is. I am around them lots,and am lucky enough to have good minded horses and foals ,who in the event of an emergency I could and have gotten a hold of to deal with injuries etc. But here the real work of haltering happens once they are weaned .
As with all of them I work in the stall , teaching them boundaries, and to give to pressure, be mindful of my space and then I get out my soft cotton rope and begin,first rubbing them all over then drop it over their neck and hooking it . I never (when they are really young ) set back and hold hard and fast , rather I keep pressure on and move with them , asking them to give until they do .I then either make a makeshift halter out of the rope or actually put a halter on them and begin the process again, never holding hard and fast , just keeping gentle pressure, always letting them feel they have somewhere to go ,but not letting them run over or drag me . I do this as often as I can , and then ,in Harley case halter him to move him to a clean stall while I clean his. We had a bit of a delay getting Harley out of the barn for turnout due to weather and some concerns about feral dogs ,but eventually we got it done. His first trip out of the barn went quite well, similar to his work indoors I kept gentle pressure to control him but rarely set back on the rope . He was nervous and a bit "up " but all in all it went well. Every day he is out for several hours and he is getting to be a great fellow leading in and out of the barn ,had a couple of silly moments and tried to take off, there is when I do hold on and set back a bit . Martin was worried about my arm (left ) and wanted 2 ropes on him, but I prefer to do my own stunts LOL ,I just used my good arm, and when he really tried hard I put my"back into it a bit " still not hard and fast or dallied onto a solid object and Harley found his little red self on his side in a snow drift! Totally unhurt, but he did need to find out there was an end to that rope. Since then he has been much more mindful of pressure.
So to the title of the post . Harley is like many a creature of habit, that is why consistency and repetition works with horses, they do seem to like boundaries and routine . Harley more so than others,he is very like his grand sire in that. Chips seems to have an internal clock and if you were 5 min early or late He let you know ! Did not like change in routine AT ALL .
Every time I haltered Harley till today , I would drop the rope over his neck and then halter him. I have tried for several days now to just go ahead and put the halter on, he is not fearful of it , just seems to want to stick to the program. But I need him to be OK with just being haltered with out the rope, (if he is sold the new owner might not always do every little thing the same , and here is one way where you can develop a "hard to catch" horse. If they have always only been caught and haltered one way , it can take them off guard when you just come at them with a halter, and they may shy back , and be at the very least resistant to this.)
So every day I have tried to "broaden his horizons and offered just the halter first, he has until today turned away and tried to evade, but as soon as I drop the rope over his neck he is fine. Today , I went in , same routine talked to him, rubbed his neck and slipped the halter over his nose,he popped his head up, but I just sweet talked him and stayed with him,and he relaxed , so I took it off. and tried again... SUCCESS!!
Also walked out of the barn just like a wise old school horse! Good Boy Harley
Not sure if my descriptions make good sense , and I am not here to tell anyone how to handle colts, its how I do things and it works for me , also when I have been asked to help other folk halter unhandled yearlings , the same routine has been effective FOR ME. Bottom line is give the horse time to understand you and while you are applying pressure, I never make a young horse feel like they have nowhere to go, I just encourage them to go the way I want them to.
Anyhow , young Harley is growing up, smart as a whip, and sweet tempered as I have come to expect from these critters of mine
And tough enough to wear pink!
Stay safe and warm my friends