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Hackamores: Pros/Cons?

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  • Hackamores: Pros/Cons?

    Trying to learn more about hackamores. I don't know anyone personally who uses one, so thought I would turn to COTH for your collective experience.
    What do you consider when thinking about using one?
    Are they always considered a 'severe' option?
    What 'type' goes best in a hackmore?
    How should they fit?
    What do you like best - leather curb, single chain, double chain? Which is mildest/most severe?

  • #2
    I have been using a an English hackamore on one of my boys. He is SO much happier in it than in any bit I tried, and trust me - I tried a lot! He would fight any amount of contact, in any bit I put in him. Physical issues were ruled out. He just had temper tantrums if gawd forbid you even asked for a half halt or for him to frame up at all. If you wanted to run around on a loopy rein all day long he was fine.

    With the hackamore he rounds his back up, drops into a nice frame and is totally agreeable, accepts contact, listens, doesn't throw his head up, his back down, grab a hold and run. I'm loving it.

    I have added a happy mouth mullen loose ring so that I've got a combination going, because I did lose a significant amount of steering with just the hackamore. . As long as I only use the bit for steering, and not for any sort of whoaing or frame work, he's happy. Riding with double reins is taking some getting used to.

    This horse in particular just works really well off the poll pressure. He's distinctly happier. I've got a leather curb on it, it's short shanked, and I'd say pretty mild. The bit I've got in combo with it is about as mild as they come. But between the two I've got WAY more control than I ever did with much harsher bits.


    • #3
      I have a myler hackamore that I use on one of my horses who really doesn't like a bit. In the hackamore he is way easier to ride.

      I like the myler hackamore because it seems fairly gentle and allows for subtle rein aides. It comes with a leather curb strap but I use a pelham chain with it.
      Last edited by tidy rabbit; Sep. 15, 2010, 12:57 PM. Reason: type0
      Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


      • #4
        I used a mechanical hackamore on my freight train.

        Bonus was I didn't have to touch the reins to get him to slow down.

        Downside was he didn't turn.


        • #5
          I used a short shanked hackamore (has a leather curb) on the guy I'm training because I couldn't find a bit that he liked. I tried many different snaffles including Happy Mouths and loose rings and he would always flip his head and go behind the vertical. (even on a loopy rein) (btw, medical issues were ruled out) I rode him in a halter one day that I was short on time and was just going to walk around and he was perfect so I put him in a hackamore. I LOVE IT! Steering/stopping still fine, he gets in a frame and rounds, and is a more happy pony b/c of it. I really don't think of it as that severe, I ride mainly dressage but hunters on this pony, and so I'm not "handsy" but I don't like super loose reins and this allows me to have a tiny bit more contact (tho he's stopped throwing his temper tantrums so I don't feel like I need as much contact anymore) The major downside is I can't show in it, so I will have to do some more experimenting before I do. (either that or just show in jumpers )
          Follow my instagram @snafflesandwellies for all things horses + fashion!


          • #6
            I used a little-s barrel hackamore on my freight train jumper. LOVED it. He was an ex-park-harness & saddle horse who was WAY overbitted when he was a youngster, so he routinely rooted against the bit. With no contact he went perfectly, but I couldn't stop him. We tried everything before my trainer finally said "hey, why don't you try this bit we use on the barrel horses?". The hackamore gave me the breaks without compromising his beautiful carriage when he was actually moving. I'll definitely keep it for the next crazy crackpot horse I find.
            And I never had problems with turning, but he was also neck-rein trained, so perhaps that has something to do with it.


            • Original Poster

              Thanks for the feedback. I'm trying to figure out why my mare seems to go well in it. She normally uses a KK loose ring snaffle, has a super light mouth and is light on the aids. Had a sharp tooth that meant no bit for a while, so tried a hackamore. Really, really like it.

              But WHY? Why would she frame up so much better in the hackamore? Why is she so light and adjustable to the fences (1.15m)? She was good in the bit but she is a whole new level of horse in the hackamore - just a plain little mechanical short shanked one.

              I'm using a single chain curb. Tried a leather curb and she would not go forward at all. That also doesn't make sense to me since doesn't the leather curb have less bite?

              Is the hackamore o-kay to use for an every day bit or would you go back to the KK to school in? Are there any long-term drawbacks to using a hackamore?

              Help me understand.


              • #8
                My mare has been bitless for oh 5 or 6 years now. She is just happier that way. At first she was in a short shanked English hackmore, no problems with steering. Now she is in a modified Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle. I put a second set of reins on it that connect staight to the noseband in addition to the standard set that crosses under the chin. This allows me to mainly ride of the noseband like you would in a sidepull set up, which is a lot gentler than just the cross under.

                She started in one when I realized she was always a lot better behaved bareback in a halter and leadrope than either undersaddle or bareback with a bit. I tried her in the halter undersaddle and the good behavior carried over. (Just in case- no physical issues)

                My initial assumption was I would just keep her in the hackmore for a little while and then switch her back to a bit. I have tried to switch her back a couple times at this point and everytime I try a bit she just gets unhappy. The latest attempt was a HS Duo wrapped in a Fruit Roll Up. After about a week of build up where I just wrapped it in the Fruit Roll Up and put the bridle on in her stall and let her eat it, I tried to ride her in it. Yes, tried. While riding on the buckle, she would tuck her nose to her chest and suck back to a degree no amount of leg could fix. If I so much as half halted, still on the buckle, she would fling her head in the air and back to my lap. So at this point, I gave up. I don't show, I am fine with her in the bitless and we can do all the work we need to, so why torment both of us trying to change it?

                To this day I have no real idea why she hates bits. She has a thicker tongue, but she even hates thin bits, so who knows. My best guess is she just hates having a bar in her mouth and I can't say I would be any different if I were a horse, so I don't bother.

                This long post was my round about way of saying I have experienced no long-term drawbacks. They are illegal/unconventional in some disciplines, but I can't think of any other draw backs.
                The Procrastinators Anonymous meeting has been postponed again.


                • #9
                  Hey, if it works, don't question! Don't look a bitless horse in the mouth, and all that....

                  Mine, a jumper, went very well in a German (long-shank, mechanical) hack for a while, but then he figured out how to evade it by roll-keuring himself. His favorite hobby used to be bit evasion, but until that moment he was soft, flexible and responsive in the hackamore. Now I ride him in a nothing bit- a Sprenger KK Ultra loosering, which he loves- but if he'd remained cooperative in his mechanical hack, I'd still be using it.
                  You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil


                  • #10
                    My TB mare goes great in a short shank english hackamore. She hasn't used a bit in about 5 years. I have plenty of brakes and no difficulty steering her with it. If we have to use a bit, I use a mullen mouth Happy Mouth bit. She is ok in it, just not as good as with the hackamore. Here is a pic of her when we went foxhunting


                    • #11
                      I used to trail guide at a hack stable where most of the horses were arabians and they all went in a mechanical hackmores. I think they were a pretty severe type- bicycle chain covered in rubber tubing and a chain chin strap. I think that had curved shanks.

                      My current arab gets a bit strong when jumping and I am considering trying him in a mechanical hackamore.

                      How do you try it out the first time and not get run away with if it doesn't work for him?
                      I was thinking of taking off the noseban on his regular bridle and put that on under the hackamore?

                      Any suggestions on what type of hackmore to start with? I don't know of anybody that uses one that I could borrow.
                      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                      • #12
                        When I first tried my TB mare in the hackamore, I had never used one or known anyone that used one. I wanted to be safe so put her regular bridle on with it(removed nose band). It made me feel safer to know I would definitely be able to control her "just in case". I also rode in an enclosed area, so I didn't have to brave the "wide open spaces". Then I started using it on short trail rides with small groups and then kept increasing the amount of time and situations that I used it. To date, I have done low level jumping lessons, dressage clinics, team penning, barrel racing(we are very slow), pole bending, foxhunting,parades, and just plain trail riding with the hackamore. My mare has a pretty small head and mouth(low palate). She really appreciates not having a bit in her mouth.