Why not a hackamore?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Norman, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. Norman

    Norman Out Of The Brooder

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    How come hackamores are not more widespread? The only place Ive seen them, on rare occasions, is in the jumper ring, western ring and pleasure riders, but not nearly as common as any other type of bit. It seems ppl use them only when a bit doesn't work for anatomical/health reasons. Are they acceptable in hunters/eventing/dressage? Can a horse be trained to carry itself round and "on the bit"?
    I was looking at the "bitless" bridles just out of curiousity and have aquestion, since the action of the rein crosses inder the lower jaw to the opposite side, how does direct reining work? Also, an english mechanical hackamore works off leverage, so how can direct reining work in that case as well?
    I guess what I am asking is what are your thoughts on hackamore/bosels/sidepulls? Bit vs. No Bit?
     
  2. Queen Scoot

    Queen Scoot Crochet Chieftess

    May 27, 2008
    HOOKERVILLE!!!
    I prefer to use a hackamore on most horses that i have trained as i have seen to many a good horses mouth turned into a hard mouth by a hard handed rider. soft hands= a soft mouth....but most people dont realize this and yank their horses head where they want it to be!
     
  3. lorieMN

    lorieMN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    we start colts or green horses on a sidepull,its just easier for them to get the idea what you want without getting in their mouth,we then go to a bosal and use that until 3-4 years old,then go to a ring snaffle,and if they are not showing and just pleasure riding and working here on the farm we keep them in that forever,if they show of course you will need to get them into a curb if showing anything western..i have used hacks with ok results on gameing horses,but I guess I dont use them as a general rule,tho I know some people that use them on trail horse and they seem fine,guess it depends on your preferance,some horses will take to throwing their heads alot with a long shank mech hack,it just seems to become a habit,I dont think they really have any reason that I can see..but maybe someone was holding the reins to short and created the habit,hard to say sense I didnt train the horse myself.I know a lady that had her horse on a bit and her husband was very rough putting it in her mouth,or actually he just rammend it in her mouth and she became impossible to bridle,she has sense told him to stay away from her horse and put her in a hack and she is ok to bridle with that..
     
  4. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    A hackamore is often used for starting horses or trail riding but it lacks some of the details you can convey to a horse with a bit. The nose isn't as sensitive and the angle of pressure can't be altered as much. Plus hackamores are usually best neck reined than direct reined due to how they apply pressure and that doesn't work for all disciplines or types of riding. I mostly run barrels and it's much more difficult to teach a horse proper balance and movement for a full speed barrel turn using a hackamore. I had to move my mare up to a combination bit that has a noseband plus a very mild gag bit to work on her turns. The hackamore just wasn't giving the right signals to keep her shoulder up and curve her body properly. It did work great to ride that mare on trails and if that's all I wanted to do with her I probably never would have moved her to a bit.

    Another problem with a hackamore is that the bone in the nose doesn't seem to hold up to pressure as well as the bars of the mouth. Steady pressure especially on a hackamore set too low can weaken the bone. Heavy pressure due to bad riding or an accident can break it. At minimum riding a horse for hours every day in a hackamore will rub the hair off and leave a slight indent in the nose. I did have one horse that would only run well in a hackamore because of poor riders beating up his mouth. Despite the fact I used a very mild hack, adjusted it right, and rode with very light hands after 4years he has a slight indent just from where it sat and rubbed.

    That's not to say you can't completely train a horse without putting anything in their mouth. There are a few cultures that have done it. It just has it's own set of problems and you'll notice more people have developped a type of riding with something in the horses mouth (even just a rope) than using only a band over or around the nose.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Remember that there are a lot of different things all frequently called "hackamores" just b/c they're bitless -- but that are really apples, oranges, grapes and pineapples [​IMG]

    First you got your sidepull type things. Also includes snapping a leadrope to both cheekrings of a halter. They provide a direct, unadorned pull on the bridge of the nose, nuthin' else.

    Then there are mechanical hackamores, the ones that have leverage shanks and some form of curb strap - basically like a bitless curb bit.

    Gag action can be worked into any of these. The Bitless Bridle (in a trademarked sense of the word) in essence has very mild hackamore-gag (pulley over the poll) action; some of the western or jumper-ring mechanical hacks have quite significant gag action.

    Then there is the bosal, which is sometimes spoken of as a hackamore; and probably other things that are not coming to mind at the moment.

    These different things have fairly different actions on the horse (for example, you can direct-rein quite effectively in a sidepull type hackamore but not so well at all in a curb-type mechanical hackamore). The ones with thin bearing-surfaces and substantial leverage (and sometimes substantial pulley action as well) can inflict considerable pain on a horse when pulled on hard, just as comparable types of curb or gag bits can.

    My experience is that it can be hard to fit a sidepull type hackamore so that it does not chafe the nose in long use (the rope-type nose ones rub and can be rather severe, and the ones with a leather or padded strap still seem to wear the tender nose-hair off a lot of horses, same as prolonged halter-wearing can). Some horses can wear them ok, chafing-wise, but they are just a really dull crude means of communication. And the leverage types do not offer very much opportunity for real communication beyond YO HORSIE, STOP DARN YOU (plus if the rider should, even accidentally, pull hard on them, like if you get set off balance for a minute, it can really hurt the horse).

    AFAIK anything bitless is still prohibited in hunter showing, certainly in dressage. You can use something bitless in the jumper phase of eventing but I am not sure you can use it XC and you sure can't in the dressage phase.

    "Can a horse be trained to carry itself round and on the bit"? Sort of kind of, partly, not really, yeah in a way [​IMG] The thing is, that's only partly produced by training - it's largely from RIDING, moment-to-moment. I have yet to meet anything bitless that affords nearly as versatile and subtle and useful communication with a horse as a well-fit well-chosen bit. Bitless arrangements reduce your reins to the level of "me tarzan you jane, want slow down horsie?" rather than permitting you to ask "please stretch the top of your poll for a moment" or permitting the horse to indicate to *you* "I am in the very earliest moments of finding this difficult and losing my engagement". That's the thing -- the bit is not supposed to be your steering or brakes (not once the horse is reasonably well trained), but tht does not mean it does not permit OTHER very important functions)

    Personal opinion: fine for quiet trailriding or just schlepping-around-for-fun on a WELL TRAINED horse, and good if you have to put a person of unreliable balance or hands on a horse that's at least well-enough trained to remain controllable. But I just prefer to have a better 'two way radio' so to speak with the horse. CAN you ride bitless? Sure, of course. Can you produce some semblance of roundness, collections and extensions, etcetetera? Of course, if you're good enough. But can you do as MUCH in that regard, as WELL, as with a bit? IMO, nope.

    (edited to add: there are a few horses in the hunter ring, at least, that are EFFECTIVELY being ridden altogether bitless. The rule says the horse has to WEAR the bit, it does not say the rider has to USE it, and there have been a few (rare) adequately-successful show hunters who were ridden about 99% off leg and seat.)

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2008
  6. Norman

    Norman Out Of The Brooder

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    THis is great. I have a tb mare that I used to show, and get lessons with up until she had her foal. Now that baby is weaned I want to slowly get her back into shape. I've been just bumming around on her in the pasture bareback with halter/lead once in a while up till now. I was thinking, to start conditioning, I'd like to just hack her lightly in a sidepull/mild hackamore. Not really asking much of her, just for her to start stretching and strengthening with the added scenery bonus for me. But after reading the replies, I really dont want to confuse her or dull her response to my aids. 90% of my steering/stopping comes from my seat and legs anyways, but will she just be confused when I do put the bit back on once we really start working?
    Thanks everyone
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:I have never found bitless thingies to cause confusion when you switch back to a bit (although some horses are pretty mystified or disconcerted by the bitless thingamajig itself, the first few times).

    And the communication limitations of a bitless thingie is unlikely to be any sort of an issue on a well-trained horse for what you're doing now -- hacking around and getting basic fitness back -- as long as you can keep her stretched and supple etc that way.

    Have fun [​IMG]

    Pat
     
  8. luvzmybabz

    luvzmybabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a 20 year old work horse that would not move if you put a bit to him but a good hack and he was a charm not sure if he was obeying leg seat signals or just anticipated what I wanted him to do next. I swear sometimes there was no way the signal was faster them him but...............now I miss Tiger. He got sold about 14 years ago to a woman that tought lessons.
     
  9. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    They will not cause confusion since the signals and pressure are entirely different. The problem will be that if she does know anything about the bit she may forget some of it from lack of use and she will not improve on whatever she does know. That means when you finally decide you want to ride with a bit you will be starting from ground zero. Hackamores and sidepulls are normally used to let the horse get used to your legs, seat, and other aspects of riding without worrying about their mouth before introducing a bit that provides alot more signals and may cause more mental stress. Riding around in a hackamore after they've gotten used to everything else will not really help you if you ever plan to use a bit. Your better off just getting her used to it now unless you never plan to use a bit.
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    If this is a former show horse I assume she was well-trained at some point (like, not just a show *halter* horse [​IMG])??

    Honestly, I've hacked any number of well-trained horses around in, like, a halter and leadrope(s) or a leather-nosed sidepull, and never noticed any sort of 'forgetting' going on.

    JME,

    Pat
     

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