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Hackamore adjustment & training question

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  • Hackamore adjustment & training question

    twenty five years ago when I worked at a hack barn most of the hack horses were purebred arabians. All but one of them went in a mechanical hackamore. For the most part they were happy, you could gallop across a field but still have breaks.

    I would like to try a mechanical hackamore for Finnegan as brakes can be a bit of an issue especially xc. I realize that I no idea what type to buy, how long of a shank, how to adjust it and how to introduce it to Finnegan.
    I don't want to get out xc and realize that I am not stopping until I reach the next county- which quite frankly isn't that far but I don't want to be galloping for a few miles through peoples yards.

    Is this something I should be able to figure out on my own in the ring or should I find a trainer that can help me?

    I actually ride English so none of the people I train with or ride with know how to properly adjust one or have experience with one.

    If I should really get help from a trainer does anybody have any trainer suggestions for the greater Pottstown PA area. I don't mind traveling up to an hour for the right trainer.
    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)

  • #2
    I ride in a mechanical hackamore because frankly my horse goes better in it than any bit I put in his mouth. But be careful, hackamores can be quite severe on the nose and poll and aren't really an appropriate choice for most horses/riders. I would suggest talking to a respected trainer, getting your horses teeth checked, and consider other bit options before I would go to a hackamore.

    That said, hackamores are certainly the best choice for some horses, and if you're convinced that it is a good option for you and your horse, start with the smallest shank hackamore you can find and go easy. Hackamores don't require the constant contact that bits do.

    Ideally you should have someone with experinced fitting hackamores help you fit it to your horse, but if that isn't possible, just make sure that the noseband isn't sitting too low on the horse's face. You don't want it working on the soft cartilage--that is probably the most common fault I see with hackamores, and it isn't very kind to the horse.


    • #3
      I think it's important to remember that, in terms of getting response and control, hackamores aren't any different than bits. Yes, the mechanics and pressure points are different, but with either one, a horse has to be trained to respond to the signals you are giving him.

      If your horse is already trained to respond properly to a bit and already accepts the bit with no problem, I'm not sure my first response to needing more control xc would be to try a mechanical hackamore.

      But perhaps I don't fully understand your issue.
      Last edited by NoSuchPerson; Dec. 9, 2012, 12:01 PM. Reason: bad grammar
      "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
      that's even remotely true."

      Homer Simpson


      • #4
        I love riding my guy in a hackamore! He has 'baggage' from the bit.. he will bolt, and just bear down on a bit, and then get painful owies in the corners of his mouth. I tried him in a hackamore ONLY because of those stupid bit sores...and it turned out to work great for him!

        I was using a 'jumping hackamore', the kind with the furry nose and medium shanks, but it seemed a bit too much for him and he would throw his head a bit and slam the brakes on TOO much. So I got him a "little s horse" and wrapped the rope nose and chain in vetwrap, and have it adjusted pretty high on his nose. He LOVES it, and goes great! Here is a pic of him enjoying it!
        Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
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        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post
          I think it's important to remember that, in terms of getting response and control, hackamores aren't any different than bits. Yes, the mechanics and pressure points are different, but with either one, a horse has to be trained to respond to the signals you are giving him.

          If your horse is already trained to respond properly to a bit and already accepts the bit with no problem, I'm not sure my first response to needing more control xc would be to try a mechanical hackamore.

          But perhaps I don't fully understand your issue.
          He tends to lock his jaw and root. My trainer has used a Myler combo bit on him and that seems to help with the rooting. I have used it also with some success. I think what got me started thinking in going with just a hackmore is that both times the chiro was out she mentioned him being out in the TMJ area.

          I just remember with my first horse he was an arabian and tended to drag me around the park. I would use pine trees to stop him with. (No, I did not have a trainer or horsey parents and yes I was over-horsed). I was told to use a running martingale, or a pelham with a long shank. Lets just say the pine trees worked better. Moved him to the hack barn and BO put him in a mechanical hackamore and he was a much happier horse. He actually would gallop along with the group and stop nicely and happily at the end of the field- no pine trees needed. However since that was back in 1986 I don't clearly remember the length of the shanks or how it was adjusted.

          I am thinking that with his response to the combo bit he may prefer the hackamore part and just get rid of the bit part.

          I would be riding in the indoor a number of times with any new bit or hackamore prior to trying him on a trail ride or fox hunting.

          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)


          • #6
            Before I would switch to a mechanical hackamore I'd teach my horse to relax his jaw on cue. Look for information on flexions as taught by Phillipe Karl or Baucher.When a horse has learned this, it can be ridden on a very light contact and a sensitive rider can stop rooting before it starts. As you're riding, you ask the horse if it is still relaxed in the jaw. You can feel if it is. If it isn't, you immediately ask for flexions that relax the jaw. Problem solved before the horse gets frustrated and starts rooting on your hands. Frequently drop the reins and ride with no contact too. A horse that doesn't have constant contact gets less frustrated than one that is constantly held in. The western people call this riding for the release but is works with dressage horses too. I learned it out fox hunting when I discovered that the horse that was pulling my arms out went no faster when I dropped contact completely.