One of the many choices horse owners have to make is whether to use rope or flat halters. A rope halter is crafted from rope and has various knots that act as pressure points, whereas a flat halter has 1 to 2 inch thick nylon or leather. Both can be used with success, though most prefer one over the other.
Which halter to pick – rope or flat?
Style– Nylon halters usually win in this department. They come in so many different designs, colors, and patterns. Some even have bling! Rope halters are usually a solid color.
Pressure– Rope halters localize pressure to specific points on the face. They act as a training tool and need to be used carefully. On the other hand, flat halters apply a lighter pressure to the entire head. This may be a good choice for beginner handlers and well-trained horses.
Taking them on & off– A standard nylon or leather halter is simple to put on. They usually slip over the ears and clip near the cheek or have a head crown with a buckle. Rope halters can be a bit trickery, as they need to be tied.
Fit– Both can be adjusted. Standard halters can be bought with adjustable nose and head crown pieces. Rope halters can be retied for a tighter or looser fit, though be careful of the knot placement.
Training– Because of the pressure points, rope halters are better for training young or inexperienced horses. They can also teach a disrespectful horse manners. Horses can be tied and taught to stand with them, as well. Many horses become dull to the pressure of a flat halter. They may even ignore it.
Durability– Rope halters do not have hardware that rusts and breaks, so they usually last longer.
Cost– Both can be cost effective, depending on the brand and style. Some famous clinicians sell rope halters that can be expensive. These are usually better quality though! And many leather halters can cost $100+, so it all depends.
As you can see, both have pros and cons. Your decision should be based on you and your horse’s individual needs.