Leather vs. Nylon Halters


Today’s horse owners are faced with many decisions as they care for their beloved equine friend, and one of the most common horse care items is also one of the most essential — the halter. The halter performs many functions for the safety of the horse and handler, and these days, the choice is usually between nylon vs. leather. Barn managers typically select a halter that matches the development stage of the horse, as well as which type of halter best suits their experience and the safety of the horse.

Nylon halters have a price advantage, are strong, and offer a degree of control for horses with any behavioral issues that are still being worked out. However, their durability also happens to be one of their main disadvantages. A horse that is tied with a nylon halter can injure itself if the halter gets tangled or caught on an obstacle, which makes for a potentially dangerous situation. So while nylon halters may be used for moving a horse from barn to pasture (or vice versa), the inherent danger of injury precludes leaving a nylon halter on for an extended period of time, especially overnight when a horse is unsupervised. 

Leather halters do come at a higher price point, but are categorically much safer than nylon halters. Natural leather halters (not synthetic leather halters) are considered breakaway halters and designed to break if a horse gets their halter tangled or caught-up.

In a recent experiment involving two robotic arms and the new NIGHTWATCH® breakaway halter and safety collar we demonstrated the ability to consistently break the all-leather crown at the billet/buckle end with a single force event of 500-600 lbs. When the same methodology was applied to several different brand name nylon halters, we found 4-5x the force was required to tear the nylon. Unlike leather that breaks, nylon tears. This means multiple very forceful events are often needed for a horse to free themselves of their nylon halter if tangled or caught-up. I guess we now know why horse tack is made of leather; it's not by accident.

Idaho barn manager, Tom Brennen, recently shared a story with us of a horse he once witnessed who broke a rack constructed of metal pipe and railroad ties and ran off with a six foot metal pipe clanging behind her (her nylon halter was still intact). While we're happy to report that the horse and all caretakers were unharmed, the situation could have potentially been a fatal one. It also could have been avoided with the use of a leather halter in place of nylon. 

Admittedly, we cannot always have all the tack we want. But when it comes to the safety of our horses, we choose what's best for them. That's why the NIGHTWATCH® breakaway halters and safety collars are made from all-natural, premium 1", triple-stitched Havana brown leather to ensure safety and comfort.

Learn more about our team of sixth-generation craftsman and leather used to make each NIGHTWATCH® smart halter/collar at Freedman's, our exclusive provider. Order today