Thursday, 31 December 2015

Fun with Head Collars

I've been really getting into making my own model horse tack at the moment. Nothing fancy or elaborate, just rugs to protect my models on their shelves, and head collars. In the past all my model head collars were either official brand or from other tack makers, but I've always wanted to make my own head collars. I just never had the right materials and equipment, and, to be completely honest, I still don't. But I have a box full of ribbons and beads and all sorts of things I've saved for the day when they'll come in handy, and I was going through it the other day and decided it was time to have a go.
 I wanted to try out two different kinds of head collars: traditional and rope. This is my first time making either, so they're far from perfect, but I'm reasonably happy with how they turned out.
 I used this tutorial from TiME Stables and Studio's blog to make the rope halter. It seemed a bit complicated at first, but once I started to follow the steps it was actually very straight forward. I particularly like the fact that this kind of halter doesn't require glue or buckles or jump rings, and once you have your string the right length, there's no more cutting needed either.
 On the other hand, this kind of rope halter is rarely, if ever, used for real horses in England, so it feels rather out of place on my models. That's why I chose Scout to wear it: since he's a stock horse it suits him better than one of my sport horses or ponies (at least in my opinion).
 The thread is some soft, rolled string I had for many many years that I thought would work well for a rope halter. It was a little shorter than the tutorial recommended, but it just about did the job.
However, I messed up on the final step. Whilst trying to tie the poll piece to the cheek loop I accidentally pulled the cheek loop out. I couldn't be bothered to untie the whole halter and go all the way back to the beginning again so I just tied off the poll piece and left it at that. When I try again I'll make an effort to make it realistic, but for the first go I figured it was good enough.
 For the lead rope I just took another piece of string and tied it to the chin loop. I realise this is probably not realistic either, but for now I'm satisfied with it.
  The other halter I made was much more complicated and took much longer to construct. The jump rings are actually from an old dangly ear-ring I have that's broken beyond repair. I'm a complete squirrel so instead of throwing things away I hang onto them and store them until the day when they'll come in handy, and that's just what happened with the ear-ring. Thankfully, it was pretty simple to take apart so I could use the rings from it. The ribbon came from my afore-mentioned box, and again I've had it for years.

 Unfortunately, I don't have any glue that I was willing to risk using. I'm not sure what kind of glue tack makers normally use, although I've known people to use hot glue guns to make model halters. What I do have, however, are needles and thread, so I sewed the pieces of ribbon to the jump rings instead of gluing them. This took a lot of time, and as you can see, wasn't very successful. Sure, it holds the halter together, but it's not very attractive, and the silky ribbon tended to fray on the edges where it was cut.

  On top of that, I'd sew a piece in, only to find that I'd mistakenly sewn it on the wrong side, so the end that's folded over is on the top instead of underneath where it wouldn't be visible. I also messed up and sewed the buckle piece onto the wrong side of the halter, but I have seen real life left handed halters, so at least that's not too bad.
 Unfortunately my bright pink ribbon ran out before I could finish the halter, so I was forced to use another colour for the poll strap. I chose black since it contrasts the bright pink nicely, and used the black ribbon again for the lead rope so at least there's some symmetry. The buckle was homemade from a chopped up paper clip that I bent into shape.
 The lobster clasp for the lead rope also came from a piece of old, broken jewellery. I used the same bright pink thread I'd used on the halter for the black ribbon to try to make the lead rope look like it belonged with the halter.
 The overall result isn't very pretty, and it definitely won't win any awards, but as a first try I don't think it's too bad. It'll only be worn by my model on the shelves anyway, so it doesn't have to be perfect. And I've learnt some important lessons for the next one I make (like glue is way better than thread!).
Overall it was a lot of fun, and I definitely want to make more head collars in the future. Maybe in a year or so's time I'll be better and I can compare my first attempts and see how I've grown. It's probably worth investing in proper equipment, though... :)


  1. Don't worry, my first halters and bridles were a disater! Your tack looks pretty good though, and be proud of it! Even when you make lsq tack there is room for improvement, and I can barely make psq! And I use hot glue for ribbons, duco cement for leather, and you can use tacky glue or bond 250 (I think thats what it's called? I used it in a workshop once) for ribbon or leather pieces. Don't bother with elmer's glue, it makes the ribbons hard and it's a true pain to work with as it takes forever to dry! Hope this could help a bit. :D Good Luck!

    1. Thanks for your kind words and helpful advice. I'll keep an eye out for the brands you recommended :)

  2. Tack is certainly something I've been interested in trying sometime. For first attempts these are very good! I agree that a rope halter on a British breed looks very odd!

    Happy New Year! :)

    1. Thanks. Hopefully I can improve with my future attempts :)

  3. Glad to hear you had some use of my tutorial :) I think you did good and I loved how you actually sewed the halter together, glue is great to use but my first attempt got a little to much glue which made some edges a bit hard and sharp and I'm scared it would scratch my model. With the thread you don't have to be afraid of that.