This morning I looked at an equine calendar, and the March illustration made me smile. It is a photograph of a mare and foal running in a pasture, and the mare is wearing a halter. It made me smile because seeing horses in halters but no lead ropes in photographs brings to mind lots of questions.
For instance, in the photograph I saw this morning, was the halter left on the mare to show how domesticated she is? Or was it left on because the owner couldn’t catch her to take it off and the photo was snapped as she and the foal ran about free? I have heard of Fell Ponies who have worn halters for months because their owners either couldn’t get them off or were afraid if they took them off, they’d never get them back on again. (My first pony taught me that I could walk around a pasture a lot playing the haltering game if she wanted me to. I learned to play the game differently and can halter her anytime I want now.)
When I see photos of foals wearing halters with no lead rope attached, I have lots of questions, too. Is the owner communicating that the foal is halter broke? Or have they been unable to get the halter off the foal after they got it on the first time? I’ve chased a few foals in my time to know the possibilities! (I’ve learned that the best solution is to stay still and wait, as inevitably the foal’s curiosity will take over, and it will come to me and let me take the halter off.)
Unless my ponies are being handled or worked, I rarely leave halters on them and therefore rarely take photos of them with halters on. Do people wonder if my ponies are halter-broke? It’s a reasonable question, I suppose. The reality is that they are so halter-broke that when I appear with a halter and lead rope, they try to stick their nose through even if they’re not the pony I was intending to halter.
The other day my husband came home at lunch to find me in the turnout with seven ponies tied to the fence. He said it was a pretty amusing scene. He ought to have been there when I first entered the turnout with seven halters over my arm! I immediately had five ponies approach me wanting to have their halter put on first. I was pretty impressed that among the five was the youngest, Willowtrail Liberty. The two mares that didn’t approach are both fell-bred and on this occasion concluded that I wasn’t worth that much attention. On the other hand, another fell-bred mare was the first to approach me. It’s clear for which mares I need to improve my horsemanship!
I doubt that I will change my haltering habits or my photographing habits when it comes to ponies and halters. Hopefully people will ask me about whether my ponies are halter-broke when they see pictures of them running free not wearing halters. And if other people choose to share photographs of their equines wearing halters, I’ll enjoy them. Smiles and questions are great additions to my life!