October 8, 2012
Sometimes all a horse and rider need to do is go back to the basics.
I need advice on what hackamore I should use on my horse. He is a head tosser and knows how to run through a normal snaffle and sidepull. I ride him in a 3-inch shank bit, which works well, but he fights it a lot, which makes riding unpleasant. I’m a trail rider and I don’t show, so I don’t need anything fancy, just something that works. I have good hands and I always try to be soft on him.
For help, we consulted AQHA Alliance Partner Certified Horsemanship Association:
It is hard to be sure of the problem without seeing the horse, and always remember that what works for some or most horses may not be the right method for a particular one.
First off, I don’t think that a hackamore will solve your problem. A horse that is running through varying types of equipment usually just needs to go back to some basics. The first thing I would do is have a vet check his mouth and teeth.
If no problem is found, the next thing I would do is make sure he is listening and understanding your cues. Start from the ground, and work on getting him to bend his head from side to side with very little pressure. Apply gentle pressure (no more than two fingers) until he gives just a little, then quickly release. Gradually ask for more and more bend. When he is doing that easily from side to side, do the same from the saddle.
Next, do a lot of circles and serpentines of different sizes. Begin with large ones that he is comfortable with, and then gradually make smaller ones. When he is doing them well at a walk, try the same ones at a trot. Use as little rein as possible, and don’t forget to release when he gives to your hand.
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The next exercises would be transitions. Walk 10-20 steps and halt. Use gentle pressure, and make sure your body and legs aren’t asking him to keep going. If he keeps forging ahead, bend him in a very small circle, then ask him again gently to halt. If he doesn’t stop, circle again. Once you get a halt, walk forward and try again. Repeat eight to 10 times or until he gives you a couple of nice easy ones. Then try some walk/trot/walk/halt transitions. Make sure you give a big quick release as soon as he changes his gait.
Start all of these exercises in an arena or other enclosed area if you have access to one. If not, use a corner of the pasture so he at least has two fences and one corner to help him.
Always remember that, with horses, there is no quick fix. It may take days, or even weeks, but it will be worth it and these exercises can really be a lot of fun.
– Pat Leach, CHA Master Instructor, Burleson, TX
*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting an AQHA Professional Horseman.
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