How to Make a Breakaway Halter

A breakaway halter can save your horse's life. Here's how to make one using items you probably already have at your barn.

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During turnouts, it’s best to remove your horse’s halter—halters can get hung up on fencing, trees, et cetera, leading to potential injury.  However, if your horse is hard to catch when turned out, you may need to leave a breakaway halter on him.

Commercial models incorporating leather crownpieces, hook and loop fasteners, and thin leather “fuses” are readily available, but you can also make breakaway inserts for halters yourself.

Breakaway Halter
A commercially produced halter with a leather breakaway strip
  1. Remove the crownpiece buckle from a junk halter the same width as the one you’re using to craft a breakaway for.
  2. Find a scrap of buckskin or thin, soft leather cut from a worn out purse, boot or coat. Cut a strip of leather the same width as the halter and 8 inches long.
  3. With a leather punch, punch a single hole in the center of the strip, 3 1/2 inches from one end
  4. Double the leather strip so the hole is centered at the fold, and feed the salvaged buckle through that hole, shorter end up.
  5. One inch below the first hole, punch two more holes about 1/4 inch apart.
  6. Thread a thin leather thong up through both holes and tie a simple overhand knot. Trim the thong, then punch another hole 3/4 inch below that. It’s finished.
  7. To use it, buckle the crownpiece strap of a regular nylon or leather halter into the insert’s buckle, then the insert’s twin tongues into the regular halter’s buckle.
  8. Remove the insert before tying your horse: it’ll pop in an instant if he spooks or leans back. But always reinsert it before turning your horse out. Breakaway inserts save horses’ lives.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Helpful article, but it would be better if it had some illustrations/pictures for the steps. It looks like there were some originally, but they were removed.
    Another thing to consider if you’re going to leave the halter on during turn-out is that the noseband might rub your horse’s skin off. At a previous lesson barn, my lesson horse’s nose skin was rubbed completely off from the halter being on almost 24/7. poor horse :(. So if you keep your horse’s halter on a lot, pad the noseband with something like fleece to protect your horse’s tender face.

  2. this idea is really good, but if you wanted to make it it would be really helpful if there were some pictures. i want to make this, but i have no idea what it looks like. pictures please?

  3. I have a horse, that I care for, who is hard to catch. I just use an old halter, and replaced on strap with a leather thong, which I know will break if he gets it tangled on something.

  4. In reading your article on breakaway halters by Sue Weaver, you show that there are illustrations on making the breakaway halter. How ever there are no illustrations. Would it be possible you could send me the illustrated article? I like the article.
    Thank You
    Merrill

  5. Hi have just read your blog and would love to make one of these as my horse last week damaged her poll whilst in her grazing muzzle and was in quite a lot of discomfort for a week. The problem is the grazing muzzle has to be kept on her to stop laminitis and the head collar needs to be tight to stop her getting it off. Do you have a diagram of making the head collar I would really appreciate it as well as any other suggestions. Thanks

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