Over the past few years as horsemanship has been taught more heavily and the results documented, rope halters have started to make an overwhelming appearance. Especially used while starting young horses and for teaching foals to lead, rope halters have been utilized. Cowboy races have been made a new event that some clinicians that use rope halters have helped create. Craig Camron’s Extreme Cowboy Race is an event that draws many people who want to be called horsemen (or horsewomen) and with some participating in the Craig Camron clinics the use of rope halter is heavily relied upon.
So why not web halters? Web halters have hardware on them that could break when a horse pulls back or acts up. Why is it less desirable for a horse to be able to get away in a panicked situation? Because a horse learns from release, if a halter breaks when he sits back he learns right then that all he has to do to get away from the pressure is to break the halter. This creates a habit which is hard to break and very dangerous to be around. A rope halter has no hardware to break, now a horse can break a rope halter or lead rope but because of it not containing any hardware there aren’t as many stress points to worry about breaking.
Granted web halters can be more stylish than rope halters but both come in many different colors. With proper horsemanship and horses that respect the noseband of a halter the web halter can be just as effective as a rope one however with the knots on the rope halter on pressure points to help keep the horse off of the noseband the lightness of the horse can more easily be achieved with a rope halter. With that being said, again, if proper horsemanship is used and lots of consistency the web halter can teach the same thing.
Web versus rope halters has been a debate ever since they were both offered on the market. In my opinion based on what you do with your horse, what you want to do with your horse, and the level of horsemanship involved helps decide what type of halter would be the best purchase for you.