With the recent increase in cow horse activities are you wondering if using a California hackamore or bosal could improve your training and riding? World Champion cow horse trainer Matt Koch says “using a hackamore allows a horse to find its natural headset. They carry that with them into the bridle and through the rest of their career. It gives them time to mature. It lets their mouths mature and lets them mature mentally to go for a year or more in a hackamore. The hackamore makes a better, more confident bridle horse.”
Although colts can be started in a hackamore they have historically been used for transitioning between snaffles and shanked bits. A California bosal or hackamore has 3 parts: the noseband or bosal, the headstall or hanger and the mecate (rein). California hackamores or bosals work by applying pressure to the nose, the sides of the face and the chin. Snaffle bits give a direct pull on the same side of the mouth that the pull was initiated. Hackamores apply pressure from the noseband to the opposite side of the face from where the pull was initiated. This helps colts learn to stay balanced by bringing their whole faces through the turns and not just their noses.
A critical part of a hackamore’s function is the release of pressure on the nose when the pressure on the mecate is released. When adjusted correctly a balanced hackamore’s heel knot will drop smoothly and quickly. This releases the pressure on the horse’s nose and is a reward for responding correctly to the pull on the mecate. Hackamores also help horses learn to give at the poll when you keep your hands actively working the mecate to apply pressure to the nose and chin.
Training a horse in a hackamore takes time and patience. When a horse has learned all he needs to know in a hackamore he can begin to be transitioned to a bit. You need to be sure your horse has learned how to work with lightness and sensitivity in a hackamore. He needs to understand where his feet are during each maneuver before he is advanced to the bridle. If hackamore training has been successful you shouldn’t have to be correcting your horse by pulling on one or both reins. This will help your horse’s mouth stay soft. He should stay balanced through his maneuvers, perform correctly and be a joy to ride for the rest of his career. All because you took the time to add the hackamore phase to his training!
If you are new to hackamore use it can be a wonderful talent to acquire. We recommend getting instruction from horsemen experienced in the successful use of a hackamore and the transition to a bridle. To learn about fitting a hackamore visit: http://bit.ly/2gizMYo. To learn about using various diameters of hackamores visit: http://bit.ly/2dIiPXs.
Dennis Moreland Tack has a nice selection of bosals and hackamores available in various sizes, diameters and core stiffness levels. Call Dennis Moreland Tack at 817-312-5305 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
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