Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fire Halters

I saw a post on the Schneiders Tack blog about a barn they visited which had special "fire halters" next to the fire extinguishers by the barn door.   The throat and chin pieces had been removed, leaving the crown piece that goes over the top of the head. They had leadropes threaded through the back of the halter, taking the place of the chin piece that had been removed.  At least in theory these halters should be easy to grab and slip on the horse's heads in case of a fire. Click on the link above to see pictures of the halters.

I like the idea but I'm not sure how helpful these would really be in the event of a fire. First of all the farm in question has the halters buckled over a bar. In an emergency situation someone would have to take the time to unbuckle each halter which seems to be defeating the fast and easy access purpose to me. My other question mark is that the halters are nylon. Occasionally my science degree from college comes in happy, and I do remember that nylon burns at a very low temperature. With that in mind I'm thinking leather might be a better choice than nylon. My other question is wouldn't it be easy for the rope under the chin to get pulled tight, making it hard to get the halter on, especially if the person doing the haltering has never been around horses?  

Is this really any better than just having a halter and leadrope hanging on a hook by each stall door?  I have to say I have never liked boarding at barns that insisted the halters be neatly hung upside down, by the hardware where the nose and chin pieces meet.  Yes it looks very neat and tidy but sometimes appearances aren't everything. In an emergency any non horse-person trying to help will never figure out how to get the halter on the horse's head when they pick it up upside down with the sides flush together. I always insisted that my halters be hanging by the crown piece, with leadrope properly attached, so that maybe a non horse-person might have a chance at getting the thing on the horse's head in the event of a fire or other emergency.

A barn fire is one of those things that tops the list of worst nightmares that can happen to a horse owner.  Several years ago a barn that I boarded at when I was in middle school burned to the ground from a lightening strike in the middle of the night. All the horses in the barn died. The horses on night turnout were just fine. The barn had properly installed lightening rods which served as a harsh reminder that they are not 100% effective. It goes without saying I hope to never have personal experience with a barn fire. If nothing else reading the post on fire halters certainly made me pause and think. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the fire halter concept vs halters hanging on hooks by each stall door.


Merlin and Fabrizzio


Lighty, Africa and Murphy

Griselle was looking very relaxed

Lucky and Lightening

Noble and Fabrizzio

another very relaxed mare (Lily)



Apollo and Chance

Romeo making a goofy face


RuckusButt said...

I think you have to go to the horse's stall anyway, so you aren't going out of your way to get a halter. Ours are never hung with the cheek piece clipped closed and sometimes with it clipped to the offside, so that wouldn't be an issue. Also, I think it's better to have emergency procedures as close to usual routine as possible because that will make reactions that much faster. If I'm always used to grabbing halters from the stalls, am I going to be faster going to the "fire halter" location? I doubt it. We don't have non-horsepeople around unless they are accompanying a boarder, so I worry about that a little less.

Lauren said...

Huh. The halters hanging by the squares is interesting... that is how we hang them in our barn. Wonder if we need to reconsider... I just prefer my horses to live out. ;)

I about had a conniption the other day when I tried to open the big back barn door from outside and found it chained shut from the inside. I'm usually pretty agreeable, but that one tipped me over the edge. A&J carefully designed all the doors to be open-able from inside or out... not chained!

Laura said...

thats why if I ever have the land to build a barn, that barn will be surrounded by a fence, that will lead to the other pastures and the whole property will have a perimeter fence. The stalls would have quick release latches which I have seen in a barn before. I do not have pictures but you grab the sliding latch (that u shaped type latch) slide it back then stomp on a peddle near the floor which is another latch and voila stall door slides open with ease. I have had a house fire, lost 2 cats, would have lost 9 kittens but the fire fighters busted a hole through the wall and busted windows. I would not know how to handle a barn fire. That would be to much.

RiderWriter said...

I have not heard of the "fire halter" concept, but I certainly agree that nylon is a BAD idea. I'm surprised they don't realize that. I think a regular halter (hopefully leather) hanging on the stall door is just fine. As far as how they are hung, the "hang by the squares" not only looks tidy, but to me seems to be safer: less accessible strapwork that a horse could get caught upon. I actually hadn't seen that before but the last barn I rode at hung them that way and I decided I liked it better.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Never had to deal with a barn fire thank the lord, but I plan have quick release stall doors leading to runs when I build an actual barn.

I remember reading about a large fire at a racetrack barn up north a few years ago. As it happened, many folks (non horse) driving by stopped to help - there were thirty some horses there - so I guess there is some wisdom in simplifying the haltering process.

FYI a bra makes a super blindfold, eyes in the cups, straps over the ears and hooked under the throat...

RuckusButt said...

Great suggestion CFS!

Claudia Watermeier said...

Hi Melissa, When i was very young (a long time ago) I was fortunate enough to have a horse. I did board my horse and I can remember exactly what the gentleman told me about halters. He said "if there is a fire and your horse doesn't have a halter on - he will be left behind". I guess that doesn't sound like a man that loves his horses, but I guessed at the time, if he was going to risk his life to save my horse I would comply. I always kept a leather halter on my horse hoping that if he were to get caught on something it would break! Fortunately, the barns where I have boarded have not burned down. I have no idea if keeping a halter on is a good idea or a bad one. A number of years later (still some time ago) a family that we knew had an electrical fire in their barn. The young girl, under 20 made it down to the barn but because of the flames wasn't able to halter any of her horses because they were panicked. She wasn't even able to get them to run from their stalls. They all perished. I guess they felt safer in their stalls away from the flames. I don't know if any of this info is helpful but the nylon halters sound like a bad idea. Dutch doors on the outside walls of a stall sound like a good idea. FWIW