In Vyjack’s gallops, Rodriguez uses a hackamore bridle, which would look more appropriate on Trigger, Silver or whatever Josey Wales called his horse. The hackamore is bitless, meaning there’s nothing in the horse’s mouth. The reins influence pressure points on the horse’s face for control. Racehorse trainers usually stay far away from hackamores, except maybe for the lead pony. Rodriguez went in that direction because he was out of alternatives with Vyjack. In his races, Vyjack uses a more traditional bit and bridle combination.
“He got very, very tough, and we got some cuts in his mouth because he wanted to run off,” Rodriguez said. “After the first race, he was a lot more aggressive than you want to see him. We put the hackamore on him, and he’s been very good. He’s very comfortable; I just hold the jaw up — sometimes if you take too much hold, they start having breathing problems.”