I have a new horse who responds very well to the hackamore I have but it's older and I'd like to invest in a new(er?) one. The one I have is a leather braided (over metal?) with approximately 9" shanks - but I have no idea how to measure the shanks.
How do I measure the shanks?
How do I know what length of shank is best? I'd like one that is not super severe although with a hack, my hands are incredibly light.
How do I know what kind of noseband to get?
Would a bosal offer the same type of response and if so, are they considered less severe than a hack?
I rode her in a snaffle when testing her out and altho she responded, her stop was nonexistent. While it seemed like she neck reined with the snaffle - she DOES neck rein with the hack.
I suppose I could get the same hack I have now?
Can I use any headstall with a hack or are some better than others? I do not like One-ear headstalls.
A Bosal will have less leverage and different pressure points than a mechanical hackamore. I would say in general that a mechanical hackamore has more stop to it, unless you have a very well trained bosal horse. A horse can run through a bosal pretty easy if they are so inclined.
In general, the shorter the shank on a mechanical hackamore, the less leverage and the gentler it will be. The softer, wider and flatter the nose piece, the gentler it will be. Any version can really hurt the horse with bad hands of course and if set too low, can cause actual physical damage to the nose.
I love this herm sprenger one, short shanks with flat soft leather noseband and curb strap. I use it all the time on the trail with great results:
And I have this Classic Equine Gist Clover one with flat leather wrapped over metal, medium length shanks and curb chain. It is still in the plastic with tags! And I am going to sell it:
It is very pretty and well made, but I thought is was Black and it is a dark brown antique, so it does not match any of my black tack or horses.
You can use any headstall you like with hackamore, tho they will require a short cheek adjustment. I use a dressage bridle (without the noseband) with my my sprenger hackamore, a bosal hanger (basically a strap with ties) on my bosal and would have used my fancy silver browband western headstall on the Classic Equine if it were black and I was keeping it :)
Then there are the 'S' shank hackamores that I am not familiar with, tho I do see some of the endurance riders using them.
It sounds like right now you are using a mechanical hackamore of some sort? If so, that is a really harsh piece of equipment. Perhaps you would be better suited to switching to something like the first one Equestrian09 posted, or the Little S (preferably with a leather noseband). A bosal is something else entirely, with a totally different action.
Equestrian09 - That hack is BEAUTIFUL but probably wayyyy outta my price range but I'm going to ask anyway. How much?
Bubba - ANY bit/etc can be harsh if not used properly or in the wrong hands. My hands are light. With the snaffle I used to test her out, it was all I could do to be soft because I couldn't get any response at all from her. I do not know what it means to have a hard mouth but can only assume it is not a physical thing BUT - the edges of her mouth are hard and I don't remember my previous horse having such a hard mouth (to the touch). When I used the hack, I made sure to be light. In fact, my hand rested on the horn practically the entire time and I move my FINGERS slightly to whichever direction I wanted her to go - plus leg cues. She did wonderfully. But this hack is older and I'm not sure of its condition. I'd like to invest in something that is milder.
Yes, any bit/hack can be harsh. But there's no real opportunity for finesse in a mechanical hackamore. You say nine-inch shanks--that means that any pressure you put on the reins is magnified approximately nine-fold on her face. That is also why it takes such light cues to direct her; you may not feel like you're pulling hard, but she feels the amplified pressure.
#40 has 7" shanks. The others have 9" shanks. The sleisters are very high quality hackamores. I own 3 and love them. If I was able to buy another one, I would try #40.
The ones I have now have the longer shanks and I removed the original curb chains and replaced them with a flatter curb chain. You can even just use a leather curb strap to make them milder.
The nosebands are flat leather with no metal core. So they are about as mild as you can get in a mechanical hack.
I have stayed away from the rawhide covered ones. Those look pretty severe. But a "shorty" with a leather curb strap instead of a chain is very mild. Probably as mild as a "Little S." I always wanted to try the Little S but haven't coughed up the money, especially when my horses ride just fine with the bits and hackamores I have now.