Help with hackamores

Discussion in 'Tack & Equipment' started by Blue-Roan, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. Blue-Roan

    Blue-Roan Senior Member

    Aug 31, 2016
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    Hello! I have a question about hackamores. I'm going to be doing some competitive trail riding in the summer and I'd love to be able to ride my horse bitless to make it easier for him to eat and drink along the way. I have next to no experience with the seemingly infinite bitless options outside of the sidepull and a simple rope halter with the lead tied into reins, so I would appreciate some help.

    He normally rides in a Myler comfort snaffle. I have ridden him out with a sidepull, and while it wasn't exactly a disaster, I definitely didn't have quite enough control for my liking. He rides just fine with a sidepull in the arena (he does all his transitions, slows, stops and turns on a loose rein off seat and leg) but a competitive ride is a completely different situation.

    I've been looking for a mild hackamore that has more control than a sidepull would, but not something excessively harsh. Not looking for long shanks, hard rope or chain nosebands, etc. So far I've been eyeing the English hackamore and the Little S (with a leather noseband, not the rope one). He neck reins well and steers, slows and stops well off seat and leg, so direct-reining ability isn't really an issue. I know that a bit (or a hackamore in this case) doesn't make a horse safe, but I would like to have a little extra control if I do end up needing it. Better safe than sorry.

    Okay, I lied, I have more than one question. First, what would you recommend as a mild bitless option, a bit stronger than a sidepull? As well, I wanted to know how the English hackamore compares to the Little S, and which might be better suited to my needs. I like the design of the Little S shank, swept back to it stays out of the way for drinking or grazing, but I'm not sure if the shank of the English hackamore would even get in the way in the first place. Or should I just stay with what I know works (the snaffle)?

    I appreciate any suggestions!
    Alsosusieq2 and RelaxMax like this.
  2. RelaxMax

    RelaxMax Senior Member

    Jun 6, 2014
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    I rode my pony in an English hackamore for quite some time. Ended up backing away from it because a) he didn't like it and b) I couldn't find one to fit correctly.

    I let my guy graze while on trails / sometimes just sitting on him, and I found the shanks on the English hackamore never got in the way. While a hackamore like that can be dangerous, nothing you say makes me worry that it would be in the wrong hands (literally). I didn't pay much for mine (I think $30?) so it'd be an inexpensive piece of equipment to try if you wanted to give it a go. Just ensure it's mounted safely. I let him graze with the snaffle, but I'm not as generous about it because I come from the old school "don't let the horse graze with a bit in its mouth" and I can't imagine that's comfortable.

    Haven't used a Little S so can't speak for that, but have nothing ill to say of the English guy.
    Nu5ha likes this.
  3. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

    Mar 30, 2016
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    I only know if you don't want to go classic bosal to probably start with the Little S. No experience with the English hackamore, sorry.

    p.s. I myself would stay with the bit you have, but I'm old and stuck in my ways. :ROFLMAO:
    Nu5ha likes this.
  4. Garfield70

    Garfield70 Senior Member

    Oct 26, 2012
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    Leverage hackamores work similar to leverage/curb bits.

    The longer the leverage, the harsher. So if you go for a leverage bitless contraption, if you want a mild one, go for one with short shanks/lever.

    But one thing you have to keep in mind: If you use a leverage bit/contraption your horse needs to have solid basic training because they are not suited to steering the horse by direct rein.
    Nu5ha and RelaxMax like this.

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