Halter Breaking: The Art of Time & Patience

Morning Everyone! What a weekend… The weather here has been typical PNW weather for this time of year. Rainy, windy and cold!  Things are looking up though…It’s sunny as I write this and predicting to be sunny all week! I love the cold fall mornings when they aren’t wet!

Jace and I spent much of our time at the farm this weekend.  The girls are in the barn which means feeding twice a day and scraping/cleaning up as well.  The fall and winter weather makes for messy times at the farm.  Last year I got out of chores due to my recovering back surgery, but that’s not the case this year!  Seven calves and ten cows makes for a lot of pooper scooping–Haha!  Jace loves it when I come to help clean because I am so particular about it.

Aside from feeding and chores, we found ourselves getting two steers ready for halter breaking.  The two kids that will be using them as project steers will be by in a couple of weeks to pick them up so we needed to get them started.  Jace has really improved his halter breaking skills over the past couple of years. I remember the first time he showed me how to do it…. It didn’t look fun at all!  In fact, it looked scary for this island girl!  These days he really takes his time.  It’s so important because it can actually be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing!  Within one afternoon, about an hour or so, he earned the trust of these little guys and was able to get halters on both of them with ease.  No fighting and bucking around.  So, what’s the secret? Time and patience!

With Jace, he really likes to get the steers to know and trust him.  He pens them together and just spends some time in with them while feeding them grain.  Cattle don’t like to be pet on their face, so he scratches their sides and backs until they settle a bit.  Next, he puts the lead from the rope halter on their back or neck and just lets it lay there for several minutes.  That gets them comfortable with having something on or around them.

Then, when the time is right and moving swiftly he gets the halter on in one quick motion.  He makes it looks so easy.  I haven’t gotten the guts yet to try it, but instead I helped by petting them from right outside the pen.  After the halter is on, we just let it be on them for awhile.  We don’t tie them up or lead them at all.  That will come in the next few days.

One thing that’s important is not to let them step on their lead while they are just getting used to the halter. That teaches them to keep their head down and in the show world, that’s the opposite of what you want.

I can’t wait to get back to the farm in the coming days to work more with these two boys.  They made great progress in one afternoon so I’m excited to start training them and leading them around. The real test will come when we try to start leading them around.  I’m sure they’ll want to stay put.  But, with time and patience, it’ll all come together.  Stay tuned for more pictures of that!





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