View Full Version : Hackamores
27th Dec 2001, 05:17 AM
Hi, I'm new to this board, and I wondered if anyone has used a mechanical hackamore with their horse while trail riding. I bought a horse several months ago that has been trained on the hackamore and I am having trouble stopping him. I have heard that you must have sensitive hands when using this type of bridle but Rebel (my horse) seems to ignore many of my requests to slow down and stop. He is an 11 year old arabian gelding.
29th Dec 2001, 10:38 PM
I don't know very much about them, besides that you need to have kind hands to use them, but here's my advice.
When you slow him down, squeeze your seat and thigh muscles, and squeeze, release, squeeze, release, etc. alternately on the riens. But when you do this, make sure you don't actually pull back, you're just tightening and slackening contact, alternately.
Sorry to be no further help! It's worth a try, good luck!
30th Dec 2001, 01:08 AM
Maci, I have used hackamores for years on my horses. I use a braided hackamore with 8 inch shankes. They are wonderful for beginner riders who don't know how to use there hands correctly. In order for the hackamore to work correctly, the curb chain must be adjusted so that the shanks stay almost straight when not in use just like a western bit. You can use the hackamore with one or both hands. Try using the hackermore in an enclosed area before riding on trail. If your horse is on the aids it will respond well. If the horse braces it's nose into the hackamore or raises it head above the bridle it will be hard to stop the horse. First thing is not to let the horse out of control in the first place. Do not let the horse ride any faster than you can handle. Start slowly in the walk. Use 2 hands & acquire the amount of contact you need to feel the horses nose. Make sure the hackamore is on the nose correctly. To low or to high placement with cause you problems. To tight or to loose a curb chain is a problem also. If the horse gets to fast say whoa, get it to respond to your voice & start again. If you pull too hard the horse will only pull against you. You must learn to half halt by squeezing the reins with your fingers to get the horse to respond to you commands just as if you were using a bit. If you can't do this on your own, find an instructor who knows about hackamores to help you.
5th Jan 2002, 01:00 PM
Can I please ask you all what is a Hackmore?
5th Jan 2002, 01:27 PM
A hackamore is basically a bitless bridle.:)
5th Jan 2002, 01:36 PM
for explaining that to me
5th Jan 2002, 03:39 PM
A Hackamore is one of the more severe of the bitless bridles.
There are lots more kinder ones out there.
23rd Jan 2002, 09:48 PM
When you said that the hackamore is severe, in what sense? What does it actually do to the horse that is severe? And in what sense are other ones kinder?
I began this thread because I have purchased a horse that has been trained with a hackamore. I have found it difficult to get information about it. I wonder though, if it is severe, why then is it difficult to get your horse to stop? One would think that a severe form of control would not have the effect of making one lose control of the horse.
I would appreciate it if you would explain your comments to me. Thank you very much
23rd Jan 2002, 10:13 PM
Hackmores can be very severe they can break a horse's nose. On certain ones a lump is left, even on some famous horses.
I would NEVER recommend a beginner to use one. I'm suprised to hear a horse can be hard to stop, as they are effective at stopping a strong horse. Maybe your horse has lost the senstation in that area. I used to ride my horse in one and it took very little to stop him. I found it was to strong for my liking. I have light hands but I did not like it. The shanks are very long, which mean there is a strong curb action together with the squeezing of the nose and curb chain.
I know ride my horse in a milder bitless bridle which he prefers. There are many options. You could try the gentle touch bitless bridle which is available at www.htsequestrian.com
Have you tried a bit, he may have a soft mouth. I'd always prefer using a bitless bridle. Have you had his back, saddle and teeth checked? Schooling will help so you can push him forward so he can't pulll against you.:D
27th Jan 2002, 02:07 PM
Originally posted by Silver horse
Hackmores can be very severe they can break a horse's nose. On certain ones a lump is left.
My instructor uses a hackamore sometimes for her horse Thomas, he has a lump on his nose, could the hackamore have done this?? She is a very experienced rider, she has been riding for about 30+ years, does that matter?:confused:
27th Jan 2002, 05:12 PM
Its hard to say without knowing hw she rides. Even the best riders have faults, perhaps she over uses her hands to get an outline.
The best think would be to use your own judgement, for example if you think she's putting to much emphasis on pulling in the head, then don't do it. Focus on yourself, just don't trust her own judgement, there are plenty of good instructors out there to suit you.
On the other hand it may have been done in the past, by some other heavy handed rider. The horse may have injured himself ect.
As said before, take note on how she rides and teaches, then decide. 30 years experience doesn't always she knows the best. I've been in a similar position when I realised this, I took the instructors commands thinking she knew the best, but found out later it wasn't the best way.
27th Jan 2002, 05:15 PM
I am not sure how long she has had Thomas. She doesn't use the hackamore very often, she uses a Myler bit, or a double bridle. She doesn't use her hands very strongly. She only uses the hackamore out hacking. But do you think that she is still to blame?? :confused:
27th Jan 2002, 05:43 PM
I really don't know. In my experience of using one it doesn't take much for it to be strong. You only have squeeze your fingers gently for the horse's head to come in. This is why I don't use one, as I constantly worry that its to strong. My horse goes well in it, but he goes well in others also.
If your worried ask her how he did it. Its possible she may have done it or someone else. Probably long term use would make a lump, as the skin thickens. But again I don't know how much.
27th Jan 2002, 05:46 PM
Thanks anyway Silver horse, it's quite a big looking lump, where the hackamore would sit, thats why I am a bit concerned. :(
27th Jan 2002, 05:52 PM
Is there anyone you could speak to? If its in the same place as the hackamore, then it is probably due to it. I'm suprised that its used out on hacks, could it be that the horse is to strong, pulls ect.?
Its not doing the poor horse any favours!
27th Jan 2002, 06:08 PM
My instructors nice though.......:( What do you think I should do?? Do you think I should ask anyone about Thomas??
Help I am worried now:(
27th Jan 2002, 06:40 PM
Don't worry to much. The only thing you can do is ask about whats caused the lump. You could mention you know that hackamores can cause it and see what they say.
If the hackamore is causing the problem then I wouldn't be very impressed with this riding school. Take a look at the other horses to see if there is any other lack of attention.
27th Jan 2002, 06:43 PM
I don't want to upset her:( Do you think I should ask someone who might know about him? The other horses at the stable are fine, they are all well looked after. Oh I am so confused:(
27th Jan 2002, 06:48 PM
It is extremely important that you have the Hackamore positions correctly as they can sometimes stop a horse breathing if too low. Or as said, break a horses nose.:(
27th Jan 2002, 06:50 PM
I know, but I just hope that it isn't anything to do with the hackamore, or myinstructor....:(
27th Jan 2002, 07:11 PM
Some people who ride with hackamores (not saying that your instructor is, Elfin) think that just because a bit isn't in the mouth, that it gives them an excuse to ride hard-handed. Not at all the case!
27th Jan 2002, 07:14 PM
aw, I know, but, oh....I am confused, I am going to ask someone tomorrow, I am just hoping that it was there before she got Thomas, I woudn't like to think of her being mean to him.:(
27th Jan 2002, 09:08 PM
Why would have thought that even if she dodn't cause the bump, that continuing to use it is aggravating the problem, it definitely isn't helping.
27th Jan 2002, 09:49 PM
I've ridden my horses in a rawhide-core traditional hackamore for years. I believed that what you have on a horse's head, whatever it is, is for communication, not control. Your problem is with training, not the hackmore. You'll have trouble regardless of what you use because the horse doesn't have the basics. You might want to go back and work with your horse on the ground. Lead and stop. You walk out briskly, then say "whoa" (the word is whoa, not ho). It's said in the same way in the same tone every time. As you say whoa, you stop - fully and completely. You do nothing else, you don't look at the horse or anywhere else. As you do this, you tug at the leadline. After you tug, the horse will stop. Then you drop the line slightly so the horse has slack. That's his reward for obeying. Then cluck and walk forward. Be patient. It' won't happen overnight. Praise him when he does what you want. Your answer isn't in a bigger, more severe bit, it's in proper training.
28th Jan 2002, 06:58 PM
WitsEnd- I know what you mean about the "Whoa!"/"Ho!" thing! The horses where I ride are trained on "whoa", but this girl who rides with us sometimes, still insists on saying "ho". I keep saying to her that the horses never listen because they don't understand, but she keeps insisting that it works...even though it never does work... Sorry, but she bothers me! :rolleyes:
Elfin- Just casually approach your instructor and ask how Thomas got the bump on his nose. If she asks why, just say that you were walking around the stalls, and noticed the bump and wondered how he got it. Don't say anything about hackamores, until she tells you- if you do, it might sound like you are accusing her, and she might get upset. Innocent and curiously- it always works for me! ;)
29th Jan 2002, 02:18 AM
Ok, I'm going to jump in here on this one. I have used hackamores on many horses over the years, and I have never known one to break a nose, nor have I ever heard of it happening. I have seen several horses run right through it however. My own horse, for example, will run through a hack like he had a halter on. I've used mechanical, rubber sleeved chain hacks and rawhide bosals, and some horses take to them and accept them and some don't. I have also ridden horses that did much better in a hackamore than any kind of bit. I don't see them as all that severe unless they are not put on properly, and that is where any problems for horses I have seen have come from. Improper use and adjustment. It is a tool, like a bit, and a person should know how to use any tool before they do. Yes, they take a light hand and I wouldn't put a beginner with one, UNLESS that is what the horse does best in, and he or she is given the proper instruction on how to use it. As for the horse you speak of, I wouldn't jump to any conclusions about the bump on the nose of someone else's horse. Quite frankly, its not your business. Could a hackamore have caused it? It could. Or it could be a birth defect or the horse could have run into any number of things to damage his nose. It makes no difference and all you will do if you accuse someone of using a hack when you know very little about them yourself, is cause sore feelings. I can think of several bits and gags that are much more severe than a hackamore that I would never use. Just one old cowboy's opinion. Happy Trails!
29th Jan 2002, 07:00 AM
Thanks outrider, I suppose I did jump to conclusions a bit.
29th Jan 2002, 07:24 PM
In the UK, non-western world, you may see an english hackamore, or a german hackamore.
The german hackamores you sometimes see showjumpers using - they have quite long shanks, and so a lot of leverage. Because of this they need to be treated with care. (Just think how much pressure a crow bar exerts - then imagine putting something round a horse's nose and tightening it with a short crow bar !).
English hackamore has shorter shanks.
Other bitless bridles: there is a new one being advertised, but there is also something called a 'scawbrig'.
Or western, you can use a bosal or a sidepull.
The bit bank (http://www.magnolife.com/catalogue.html) is a good place to look up stuff like this, at least for english bits (but they don't have a scawbrig) (It does exists, I have one).
29th Jan 2002, 07:36 PM
I agree with Outrider. I have seen many horses ridden hackamores and have even ridden a few in one myself. I have never, ever heard of a hackamore breaking a horse's nose or even of giving a horse a bump on its nose. I guess that it is possible, anything is really, but I don't think that it is very likely as long as the rider has some idea of what to do.
2nd Feb 2002, 10:48 PM
Although I don't know much about hackamores, I haven't heard from any rider that it can break a horse's nose. I have examined a horse's skull and they are pretty strong! They are rough with each other too, in play.
The hackamore I use has shanks but the top is just a strap of leather with sheepskin around it. I find that the only problem I have with it is that he will sometimes run off and ignore any pressure. He is a very high-spirited Arab and loves to run.
21st Feb 2002, 04:06 AM
I have used hackmores alot, and I have never seen anything worse then sores from rubbing. I think that hackmores(not mechanical) are an excellent way to progress a horse from a snaffle to a shanked, ported bit. I have only used mechanical hackmores on rope horses who's mouths I didn't want damaged, and horses with soft mouths, or really hard mouths. I had a remedial rope horse who had been ridden in a chain mouth, and he thought all bits were torture. After I broke him to the snaffle, I taught him in a mech. Hackmore to save his mouth. I have never had any problems with them being too strong, but some horses consider them traps, and throw their heads and try to run out of the preesure. Sometimes that can be fixed with a tie-down, but a more permenant fix is to take tham back to the snaffle to get them to yeild to pressure.
At least thats my thoughts.
11th Mar 2002, 04:55 AM
i went to see a horse for sale the other day (didn't ride though, because of my cold), and another prospective buyer was there. the horse was tacked up with a hackamore, and the other prospective buyer rode with it. the horse behaved pretty badly, tossing her head and bouncing around on her quarters, and i think it might have been because the rider was trying to get contact on the hackamore. i was looking at it closely and i saw how those metal things on the side (what're they called??) work, and i can see how it hurt the mare when the rider had a steady pull on the reins.
i might be trying this horse in a few days, and i don't want to treat her as badly as the rider did (although i'm sure it wasn't intentional, she just didn't know how to use it). how should a hackamore be used? i've used a bosal before, is it similar to one of those?
11th Mar 2002, 05:01 AM
UPDATE - after i posted that i checked out a site about different kinds of hackamores, and i figured out that the hackamore this horse had was a mechanical hackamore. the website said the mechanical hackamore is "one of the most severe devises one can use on a horse". do you think that maybe this horse has some problems and that's why they were using a mechanical hackamore? should i avoid this horse? i'm so confused now! :confused:
11th Mar 2002, 05:07 AM
oh - if this helps, here is a picture of the horse with her hackamore on. (so now you know exactly what kind she has). the yellow thing is the owner's glove, by the way.
11th Mar 2002, 05:07 PM
Firstly, that hack is way too low on the muzzel of the horse. Is the person using a double set of reins or single? Looks like you have two places for reins there. Any hacks I've ever used only had one shank, not two. I wouldn't use this type personally. Happy Trails!
11th Mar 2002, 05:09 PM
ooo the way you described it sounded horrid:(
11th Mar 2002, 05:58 PM
Originally posted by Outrider
Firstly, that hack is way too low on the muzzel of the horse. Is the person using a double set of reins or single? Looks like you have two places for reins there. Any hacks I've ever used only had one shank, not two.
they were one set of reins .... ugh this is sounding very bad! good thing i wasn't very attached to this mare.
13th Mar 2002, 05:11 PM
I'm glad to see this thread. I don't know anything about hackamores, but I'm checking out a new riding school that's just opened near me, and the owner told me they use a hackamore with one of the school horses to save her mouth. I should mention that the beginner who rides this mare is very closely supervised (right now she's the only student in the class).
I haven't seen the device yet, but I'm going to watch a lesson this weekend. What makes a hackamore more/less severe? What kinds of things should I look for? (I'll keep any opinions to myself while I'm there, of course - I just want to make sure this is a good place before I sign up for lessons :) ).
18th Mar 2002, 03:48 AM
That mares hackmore is very badly adjusted, and if the rider was trying to maintain a constant feel on her mouth, that might have been causing her to throw her head. Any bit, hackmore or mechanical hackmore, can be severe when used roughly or incorrectly adjusted. Mechanical hackmores are excellent for riders with responsive aids. If you are asking a hores to back, and you release any rein pressure the instant you feel them step back, you should be ok using a hackmore. I have seen lesson horses using hackmores, and find that an acceptable alternative to the rough handling a horse might receive in a snaffle or kimberwick. I strongly approve of the use of hackmores as it requires a horse to be a little better trained in order for them to behave while wearing one. However, everything has a place and a time. Hackmores can be misused, but if you are using them as a standard, I wouldn't be concerned by their use. I would be more worried about a horse or trainer that uses a light weight bit with long shanks. These are more easily and commonly misused.:D
5th Apr 2002, 04:42 PM
just to start this off it depends what hackamore you have a western,english or german hackamore. English hackamores are the gentilist while the german is the stronger. with the english on you could pull forever and make no head way while with the german one you could move your hand slightly and you could cause the horse
to stop. the hackamore works by putting pressure on the nose and poll of the horse. imagine it as a lever, the smaller the metal pieces are the gentler because the lower &bigger these are the amount of leverage caused is greater. if you have an english one try tightening the nose band or change the hackamore!!!!! try a western one and this doesn't work try the german. i know a friend who did this and ended up getting a bit for her 16 yr old connemara (a happy mouth to be exact) just try it and if it doesn't work try a happy mouth or a snaffle nothing to heavy as their mouths are gentle!!!!!:)
6th Apr 2002, 04:59 AM
The instructor that I have been riding with have always used a hackamore. As I am a beginner, I ask her which she wants me to use ( the hackamore of bitted), she always tells me to use the hackamore. Why is this if I'm a beginner. I surely don't have soft hands!!!! ;)
6th Apr 2002, 06:01 AM
Either this is what the horse has been trained to work with, and you will find how heavy your hands need to be in a short time, as he will respond quickly, or, the horse is so easy going that you could probably ride him in a halter and he would do as well. Good luck and Happy Trails!
6th Apr 2002, 03:08 PM
Thanks Outrider, you must be right about him being so used to it. I have another question, this horse, Red, just won't stop, he always wants to keep going. When in a hackamore what are some pointers you guys have to keep him from moving to fast and to help me stop him. Thanks, by the way, I am new to riding.
p.s. I do know how to half halt and that works it just seems like such a bother to continue to do that. I am so curious because we are thinking abou buying this horse, what do you think of Medal to the Pedal for a name??? ;)
6th Apr 2002, 09:21 PM
Katey, if the horse is in a hack and is not responding to it, its time to go to a different bit. A Tom Thumb snaffle or a long shank snaffle. Horses in my experience either respond well to a hack or simply run right through it. But, you can turn him in a ever smaller circle to get him to slow down. But the best bet is to change from a hack to a bit. Happy Trails!
6th Apr 2002, 11:15 PM
thanks outrider, what is a Tom Thumb snaffle??? is it just a certain brand???? thanks for all your help, I reallly appreciate it!!! :D
7th Apr 2002, 12:58 AM
Here'sa picture of a Tom Thumb: Tom Thumb snaffle (http://www.statelinetack.com/images/product/in732120.jpg)
It's a lot like the Argentine Snaffle, (a picture of one can be found under the thread entitled "bits"). It doesn't have the extra setting for different levels of leverage and controllike the Argentine. I know a lady whose horse hated the Tom Thumb but went beautifully in the Argentine. They are both fairly sensetive bits but like all things, can be harsh if misused. Hope this helps, Kate :)
7th Apr 2002, 03:53 AM
Hey! Can anyone please show me a picture of a hackamore? I would like to know, just in case becasue I *think* my pony has one, but im not sure! thanks :) :)
7th Apr 2002, 05:34 AM
Thanks Katie, it all makes so much more sense now!!!! lol.....thanks again
7th Apr 2002, 06:30 AM
there are pictures here : http://ellenofstad.com/articles/hackamoreseng.htm
7th Apr 2002, 04:22 PM
OUCH!!!!!! .....I GUESS I REALLY SHOULD ASK MY INSTRUCTOR WHY WE USE THEM!!!!! WE RIDE CENTERED RIDING!!!!! ANY MORE THOUGHTS?????? :(:( :(
7th Apr 2002, 06:56 PM
A Tom Thumb isn't a brand, its a style or type of bit. It is a training bit that has very short shanks and a snaffle mouthpiece. The short shanks can make the bit severe and it needs to be used with light hands. It will give you good control of the horse. If a horse doesn't stop with a hack, it will with a Tom Thumb, with just a little pressure. Happy Trails!
7th Apr 2002, 07:24 PM
Can't stop myself wading in here. Half Halts are too much, so you'd rather change bits. But then you say the place you ride is Centered Riding ? Isn't this all a bit back to front.
If you change bits to get better brakes, rather than working out what the root cause is, then you are opening yourself up to a never ending escalation of stronger bits.
Maybe your body language is not clear enough, so the horse does not realise you want to slow down. Maybe he's not listening and you need to work with half halts to get his attention. Maybe he's uncomfortable some how. I know my older (30 yr old) pony has to take his time slowing down these days. There are 101 possibilities for why he does not slow doan. ONE of those many could be that he is not happy with the bit you have. Have you given all the other possibilities equal time and thought ?
Half Halts should not be a lot of work, but it may need a bit of focus to fine tune your aids to your horse's training and reactions. (finding out where the buttons are). But then half halts should be like breathing - something that just happens without you even having to think about it.
Like learning to drive, you have to focus on it while you are learning and then it becomes more natural. Or walking - you learn to walk when you are a baby, but I bet you no longer have to think how to walk !
And if you have instructors teaching Centered Riding, then they should be able to help you use this approach to help with your issue.
7th Apr 2002, 09:00 PM
i looked at the link with the picture of the hackamores, and the one at the top is a *really* severe version. i'd be very surprised if lesson horses are being ridden in that type of hackamore. your average hackamore is much easier on the horse.
i'd agree with cvb that changing bits is almost never a solution to a horse with no brakes, but then some horses just don't like hackamores, while some just don't like bits.
8th Apr 2002, 10:58 PM
Thanks for explaining all that to me....I just went on a trail ride and asked my instructor about it...and she said that the hackamores are a lot easier on the horses when a beginner is riding them...because and i quote "how would you like a big medal piece inside your mouth ripping at your flesh, thats what it feels like for the horse" ha ok...so thanks again!!!! :)
9th Apr 2002, 05:33 AM
I think I would rather have a big piece of metal in my mouth than a hard thing over my nose, squeezing and pushing down on it. And it in no way rips their mouth! I would rather have a person with heavy hands using a bit than a hackamore. A hack takes a light hand that most new riders don't have. Some horses just won't take it. It isn't a device for them all. Happy Trails!
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