I have been reading here for a month or so and LOVING all the advice. Thought I would throw a question out there...
I am trying out a horse to lease that is ridden in a hackmore. I am an adult re-rider with experience riding and jumping with a lot of different horses throughout the years. However, I have never ridden a horse in a hackmore (except on a western trail ride eons ago).
I realize I have to make a few adjustments in my ride (time to perfect that automatic release as the crest release in this bit seems to be no release at all)... but wondering what advice anyone has on jumping, steering, getting bend (I am finding this difficult) and going "on the bit"... I can get him really long, low and stretchy after some work but I don't really feel the steady contact like I have with an regular bit.
Do you get a steady contact with a horse in a hackmore? What adjustments in your riding do you make when using this bit? Hand position (higher?), feel, direct rein, indirect rein (and hope you don't need it but can you do a pulley rein??) etc. etc. Any and all advice welcome.
I do have an excellent trainer who is assisting me, but I always look for every opinion I can.
I ride my 17yo TB mare in a hackamore. I have used a hackamore with her for 7 years or so. I can actually have more contact with the hackamore than she would tolerate with a bit. If we do use a bit very infrequently, it is a mullen mouth happy mouth bit. I never school in it though as she starts leaning and pulling down. I find that I ride with the hackamore the same way I ride when she has a bit as far as hand position and use of direct or indirect rein. She is so responsive to the hackamore that I can ride her one handed when trail riding (at the walk)and still have complete control of steering her. When I trot or canter (depending on how frisky she is), I may use both hands. I have only had to do a pulley rein one time with her since we have been using the hackamore. I found that it was almost more effective than doing one with a bit.
My horse was always much better about taking contact with a short shanked english hank than a snaffle. He liked to reach into it. Unfortunately he eventually leaned into it too much on course and got to heavy on the forehand and curled but for a long time that's what he went in best.
I'll go against the grain here... I was riding an older TB mare in a hackamore due to melanomas on her lips that were incompatible with wearing a bit. She was built downhill and tended to lean, so all of our flatwork was focused on making her carry herself. I made a point to ride her mostly off-contact on the flat, using my body position and various exercises to lighten the front end and remind her that I wasn't going to hold her up.
Over fences she went more conventionally, with a steady but light contact. Steering was based on outside leg and rein -- I found that inside rein did nothing good for us. As for the pulley rein, I had no problem getting the desired effect when necessary.
I was making compromises with a moderately talented and fairly quirky older mare, so this is not necessarily the way normal horses should go in a hackamore. But the mare was happy, and my coach and I were happy with how she was going.
Well there are hackamores and hackamores. Assuming you're talking about a short-shanked jumping hackamore, here's my take, based on limited experience.
Contact is different and needs to stay light until you need more. The hackamore puts a lot of pressure on the horse's nose. If you're the sort of rider who tends to tense up and grab when things go sideways, this is a recipe for trouble. My mare started rearing with me... and once she was out of the hackamore (long story omitted), she stopped. Very occasionally she'll get a little light in front, but we went 3+ years with her in a snaffle with no actual rearing. She reared once recently but it was not her fault!
If you have quiet, light hands, you should be fine.
---- "You have to have experiences to gain experience."
Thanks for the suggestions and tips. We're actually trying him in a hackabit which is quite a long shank hackamore with a happy mouth Mullen mouth bit attached to it. We are having some success on the flat and I am getting more used to it - jumping tomorrow so that will be the true test.