Groundwork Halter and Showmanship Riding and Training Tack and Equipment Young Rider

How to Safely Use a Stud Chain

A young girl showing her horse in showmanship at halter
Photo by S.M/Shutterstock

Many horses are easy to control with a plain halter and lead rope. Sometimes, though, a stud chain may be necessary for more control. Examples include when hand-walking a horse on stall rest that has a lot of pent-up energy, or when extra control is needed for a vet exam.

Yet stud chains aren’t only used for restraint. They can also help a horse stay focused on his handler. They’re often used in halter and showmanship classes. The stud chain allows the handler to give subtle, almost invisible cues to the horse. Keep reading to learn how to use a stud chain safely.

A stud chain should only be used with a flat-strap leather or nylon halter that’s adjusted to a snug fit. Otherwise, the stud chain could cause the halter to twist around on your horse’s face.

A stud chain being safely used on a horse
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To attach the stud chain, run it through the lower metal ring on the left side of the halter. Go from the outside in. Guide the chain under your horse’s jaw and then back out the lower halter ring on the opposite side. Continue up, outside the cheekpiece of the halter, until you reach the top ring. Snap the stud chain onto it with the thumb tab facing out.

Another option is to guide the stud chain over your horse’s nose rather than under his jaw. If used too often or too harshly, however, you could cause cosmetic damage to the area above your horse’s muzzle.

When used properly and humanely, a stud chain is an important tool to have in the barn. Now you know how to use one safely!

This article about how to use a stud chain safely appeared in the May 2021 Mini Digital issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Cindy Hale

Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.

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