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[RC] bits and hackamores - Julie Fuller

I do agree with "control the mind, not the mouth" wholeheartedly! And it has been my experience that training and trust are the keys to this. But on occasion, there are mental blocks that must be dealt with first.

I had a 25 year old mare (bought for baby-sitter/trail riding for young kids and hubby) She was a big, rangy, foundation style Appy. We put her in a cowboy snaffle (with pretty long shanks) and started riding. She was awful! Refused to walk at all, always went full-tilt, either trotting or cantering. Soon, hubby was refusing to ride since she also stumbled all over herself as well as going too fast.

I was going to get the horses teeth floated, and was checking her out before the vet arrived. I was shocked to find the gums of her bars had no padding at all... it was like scar tissue over the bone of her jaw. The vet said she'd probably been like that for years and years. So I put a mechanical hack on her. Man!!!! What a difference! She walked, she trotted, she cantered, she was SANE! An entirely different horse.

I had another horse who didn't work well with a bit..... switched her to a hack after she ran away with me. (VERY scarey 3/4 mile run down a gravel road) She too became a different horse. She not only slowed down, listened and was sane.... she also ATE and DRANK on the trail for the first time in 2 years! I had always thought she wsa a picky eater.... I'd put a nose bag on her, full of chopped carrots, apples, grain, whatever, and she'd just STAND there and GLARE at me! It wasn't a week after switching her to a hack that all this stopped.

One of my biggest gripes about hackamores is that 99% of the people who say they don't work have either bought cheaply made hacks, not had the chin-strap tight enough, or both. In order for a hackamore to work correctly, the chinstrap must be adjusted correctly..... no more than two fingers of space. A better indicator is to pull back on the reins.... I adjust my hacks to be tight when I pull the reins back no more than 3 inches. I ride with a loose rein, and don't have to worry about yanking up yards of rein to get a stop or slow.

The ONLY hackamore I have found to be consistantly worth the money is made by Sliester. The are pretty spendy, starting at $65, but they are worth every penny. I don't ride with anything else anymore, and even drive my pony to cart with a hackamore. Sliester makes several versions, both in stainless and aluminum, with short and long shanks, arab size or horse size nose bands, and even show hacks with silver and all the goodies.

I used to be one of those people who didn't like hackamores, and would never use them. I had 25 different bits in my tack room. (No kidding.... I used to do alot of training) But experience proved me wrong, and now I don't have a single bit in the tackroom that is used. With a hack, I never have to worry about control, OR injuring a horses mouth with a bit that doesn't fit correctly. (Or having a novice rider hurt anyone either)

Nat, Tai-Boy, Sparrow, and Jynxie the Wonder Pony


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