Equipment: training material, halters

Training equipment and tack

An important principle is to make sure you do not fall into the trap of anthropomorphism. What might be nice and helpful from your point of view may not be from the horse’s point of view. Actually, you may buy a piece of equipment with the intent to help improving your horsemanship and it might end to be quite the contrary.

So, as far as we deal with equipment: less is best and think as a horse.


First, I never use these nylon or leather halters as they are so comfortable for the horses that they may lean on. You want to keep a certain amount of leverage power on your horse, which is not possible with these halters. Select a nice fleece band and you set yourself for failure.

Equipment - Clinton Anderson's rope halter is designed with extra knots.

Equipment – Clinton Anderson’s rope halter is designed with extra knots.

I started to practice horsemanship with this kind of halter. They are made out of hard nylon rope and designed with a couple of extra knots right above the muzzle. The intent is to have an increased amount of pressure on the horse, which is right.
Yet, horses’ muzzles are quite fragile and these irritating halters may harm them. If you start a colt, you may need to put a lot of pressure and the halter will be harmful. If your horse is already broke and fairly educated, you will not need this extra amount of pressure.
I still have a couple of Downunder Horsemanship halters though. I noticed that it was helpful with really spoiled and powerful horses. I had the case of a 17-year old stallion used to respect no one but itself. Once on its back, it was quite helpful to have this leverage possibility during the first two or three sessions.

Equipment - Double Diamond rope halter is a gentle design.

Equipment – Double Diamond rope halter is a gentle design.

Later on, I started to use this more gentle rope halters. They are made out of soft nylon rope in a simple design. They are comfortable enough to make the horse feel good, yet the diameter of the rope make it very efficient once you start to put pressure.

When starting a horse, this halter will help to put the right amount of pressure, being unpleasant but not harmful. Once your horse is more educated, you can use the halter without even having to put pressure at all.

Halters made by Double Diamond Halter Co. are made out of a high quality rope and are pretty well designed, so you can adapt the fiador knot to your horse’s head size.


You can find this kind of simple-designed rope halters in horse specialized stores throughout Europe and in different web sites. My personal favorite is a 6 to 8 mm diameter: thinner and it might be a little harmful, larger and you may lose some amount of pressure.

Lead rope

I started with a 14′ (4.2 meters) long lead rope from Downunder Horsemanship. It is very convenient for beginners as it is pretty heavy and thick, so you can control it correctly. Moreover, the length offers a good security distance to the horse and enables to lunge the horse at the canter pretty easily.

Yet, as you become more advanced, you may prefer a shorter rope: 10′ or 12′ (3 to 3.6 meters). The other big advantage being that it is a lot cheaper and available in any good equine shop.

Tip: I always connect the rope directly to the halter's fiador knot.
These heavy snaps are practical but can harm the horse during the groundwork sessions as it will bump under the horse's chin.
Equipment - 14-feet long lead rope designed by Clinton Anderson

Flags & Sticks

Here I will present you some tools I used, yet fortunately you do not have to spend all your money there. Any stick equipped with a plastic bag is working fine (tested and approved). I would not use a whip though as it is not rigid enough and you may hurt your horse when approaching him too quickly, which would not happen with a stick.

Equipment - Clinton Anderson sells a long carbon stick with a string

Clinton Anderson sells a long carbon stick with a string
Equipment - Pat Parelli chose the carrot stick to sell his own tool

Pat Parelli chose the carrot stick to sell his own tool
Equipment - Ray Hunt, Buck Brannaman and others use a flag


Clinton Anderson in his Downunder Horsemanship method and Pat Parelli in his Seven Games use the same kind of stick. Parelli just chose an ugly color to build a reputation and sell a “new” product.
Typically, both handy-stick and carrot-stick are 4-feet (1.2 meter) long fiber glass sticks, prolonged with a 6-feet (1.8 meter) long string.

Anderson uses the stick only in Groundwork exercises to put pressure on the horse, sometimes to hit it if the response is not good enough and the string is used to desensitize the horse. Parelli uses the stick both from the ground and from the saddle, in particular to turn the horse left and right.
I started with such a stick but quite quickly gave up because they are pretty heavy and clearly too long.

The flag has been used for a while by Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, then Buck Brannaman, Peter Campbell and many others. This is definitely not the only reason why I think it is a must-have equipment. A flag is a 3-feet (90 centimeters) long rigid wire prolonged with a square-shaped piece of nylon.

It is a lot lighter and the shorter length makes it more practical to turn around the horse, to reach every part of its body for desensitizing, and much more.