Saturday, July 9, 2016

I Did a Thing

Most people find it really hard to believe that my OG OTTB prefers a hackamore over anything else when it comes to jumping. Of course, only in stadium-boy needs a bit out on XC...but regardless, people used to be stunned we could skirt around jump classes and win them with a *gasp* hot OTTB and a hackamore.

Suck it, haters.

I discovered Yankee's preference for the hack by accident on day  while on a trail ride. There were logs on the path and I noticed that he jumped them so much better than usual, and was lighter and more responsive than with a bit.

Then I tested it over actual stadium fences and it was an earth shattering discovery. Now, I prefer he never be jumped over rails without it and I am lucky V trusts my judgement and uses my tack.

Double thumbs up for hackamores
I have been thinking about trying it with B for some time now since he seems like one of the horses that quite literally just hates bits. He is always fussing, licking, tossing and trying to spit it out. I've known a few horses like this, and while they can never be competed legally in dressage, they are lovely riding horses in a hackamore.

I was resisting for a few reasons...
1) I really didn't trust him while jumping yet to not bolt and then have no brakes. Sure, to some horses a hackamore is actually more leverage than a bit in their mouth but I wasn't willing to try just yet on my psychopants
2) I REALLY wanted to try and get him to accept the bit, especially because I was still eventing focused and you kind of need a bit to compete in dressage. Maybe one day they will allow bitless... I think I mildly succeeded too, but it is still obvious that he hates bits, period. Thankfully, I am no longer focused on eventing, so thats fine. 
3) they are ugly as sin. But then again so is my tack (to most), and I love it.

So for our first two rides back after his bout with lameness, I threw a hack on and we just......hacked around. He took to it like he had been ridden in one his whole life. Some beasts don't quite understand how to respond to the turning aids, or toss their head in halt, but he loved it and was consistent and relaxed the whole time.

Trying it out in the open for the first time.
I decided to try it for real over fences. Sucked it up and gave in to what I knew would probably work for my dragon.

I popped him over a few low fences and we learned how to half halt again. He REALLY didn't like it at first; I think the leverage action was too much when he was spazzing out upon landing. But I kept my hands soft and focused on slowing his gait with my seat and other aids and he caught on that I wasn't going to inflict pain on his mouth bars or any part of his face.

Casually stepping over 2'3

Maybe one day my position while jumping him won't suck

listening and listening CALM

It was so humid, that after 15 minutes we were both soaked, so I kept the session short and the fences super low. B improved with every round we negotiated. I could really feel him relaxing and not being so spazzy after each fence (where he tends to rush) and really sat back and slowed with the hackamore. 

Hind end power

Yesterday I kept the hack on and just flatted him outside and he was lovely. Through the contact, forward, springy and responsive....better than he ever has been with a bit. #Revolutionary

I kept the ride short again because we are heading to a jumper show (last minute planned) today for some schooling opportunities. The show only goes up to 2'6 so I figured this would be a fun way o test out my theory & its not that far away.

Both the boys will be going and I am really excited about it. I was sidelined for what seemed like forever and I am lucky he bounced back so quickly and with such fervor! I hope Yankee keeps his feet off the rails today (lazy over small fences) and that B continues to improve with his newfound favorite thing!


  1. Bobby loved his hack, too. It really made him not hate me so much over fences, but eventually I took his plaything away because he decided he didn't really need to steer in it. I mostly just use it for trail riding now.

  2. Maybe I should try this. He looks very relaxed

  3. I have a sidepull that my guy jumped great in! He was just as adjustable and easy to control in that then he was a bit. Never had the guts to try It on the hunt field though!

  4. Why would people think riding a hot horse in a hackamore is crazy? Hackamores are powerfully strong. Now, riding a hot horse in a hokey bitless sidepull, well...

    1. Because most people don't know that and see a TB with no bit and think it's insane.

  5. I basically adore riding my mare in a hackamore. She loves the "freedom" and I love the security of still having DAMN good brakes haha. It's too much for anything requiring contact tho. She will jump in it on the trail and stuff, but I couldn't ever do anything overly complicated or technical bc the chain and leverage would have her too backed off. Still tho. I love it. Actually just DIY-ed a custom noseband for mine too that will be posted tomorrow haha

    1. I cannot WAIT to read this

      Surprisingly he does well on the flat too. He is a little more backed off but we are finding a happy medium as of right now

  6. I have soft hands and my guy def prefers his bit. He doesn't understand why steering is necessary and that he can map out the perfect routes by himself

  7. My horse actually rides as good or better in his halter than he does in a bit! I was using a sidepull when I started him, but once we started going out on the roads I needed something with better brakes so I switched to a bit. Maybe I should try an actually hackamore.....