If you are not already an experienced halter competitor, it will take some time to get your horse set up quickly and correctly. It is important to make sure the halter fits well and is not too loose or too tight. A halter that hangs too low can hurt the horse’s nose and a halter that is tied too tightly can restrict breathing and cause hair loss.
Most halters come with a long length of chain that snaps to the halter. If you have a chain that is too long, the best way to shorten it is by running it through the halter shank, up over the horses cheek and then out through the right side ring of the noseband. Then it can be snapped back on itself to become a shorter chain. This looks more professional than simply running it through the regular halter ring.
Once you have loosened the photo halter by pulling on the loose end, put the headcollar or halter over the top of it and then slide the nose loop down over the horses nose from underneath the halter. You may need to wiggle and pull the nose loop a bit to get it positioned properly on the nose.
With the horse haltered, reach down with your left hand and pull the lead through the bottom halter loop that is below the fiador knot (the main knot hanging down under the halter). Then pull the tassel end of the lead through the loop created by your hand. Then tie a slip knot around the tassel, making it as small as possible and then clip it to the halter with a clove hitch.
If the halter is a bit big, you can correct this by taking up on the throat knot or by tying it closer to the horses mouth. The poll strap can also be tightened if needed.
The crown piece strap should be tight enough to prevent the halter from slipping back over the ears or falling off, but not so tight that it chokes the horse. The cheek knots should be pulled up to just below the bottom of the cheekbones, but not so high that they rub against the ear or cause hair loss.
Finally, the Throat Knot should be pulled up over the horse’s throat and the chin strap should be tightened to keep the halter from falling down behind the jaw. The excess lead should be folded or loosely coiled in your left hand. This is a requirement for many different associations, but there are some that allow you to hold it in your right hand if you prefer.