Just a regular English mechanical hackamore; you can see it on Ice in this picture. I honestly hate that particular design, as soon as I have the cash I plan on purchasing a regular western hackamore, like this.
I have that very same western Hack hanging in my closet collecting dust. Only used it a handful of times before sending my mare out for training.
I'm pretty sure it would work on my mare. I've spent a lot of time practicing he one rein stop (bending their head around to disengage their hine end) and have it solid at all gaits and bending in either direction. Solid stop with just my seat etc.
That's what I was talking about...one rein stop. I practice it on my horse when she and I are loping and trotting...she seems to respond pretty well.
I used an Indian Hackamore/Bosal on Lacey for a while and she went great in it. I've switched her to just a rope halter with metal rings for the reins for the summer and she's going really well in it too. She's a little less sensitive to the halter but still totally responsive and fine.
I haven't ridden her on the trail yet in just the halter because I'm not 100% comfortable with it yet, but I'm sure she'll do fine.
She has tried to run away with me in the Indian Bosal thing and it was basically a situation where it wouldn't have mattered if I had had a bit or not (it was the first time she got to gallop in a big open space so she was like "WOOHOOOOO!!!!" with her head way in the air) but I got her back really easily by just angrily growling her name, so that was fine with me.
The only thing I don't like very much about riding in a halter all the time or in the Indian Bosal is that I feel like there is less precision in it. That's fine by me since I don't need Lacey to be super precise, but for someone who needs that, I'm not sure I would suggest bitless. However, that feeling of less precision has forced me to rely on my legs a whole lot more. I used to have a major problem using my legs but now I use my legs first, then hands. So, now I guess Lacey is very precise, just precise off my legs, not hands. If that makes any sense...
I used to ride her in a snaffle but her previous owners let her blow through it all the time and as a result, she was rather pushy with it and heavy. She totally wasn't anywhere near being a problem, it just wasn't prime in my mind. Also, she didn't understand at all how to drink water with a bit in her mouth and since she's mainly a trail pony she needs to be able to drink when there's water and I didn't like having to always take her bridle off so she could drink.
I'm sure I could have worked through the heaviness issue, I just chose not to since she acts more comfortable bitless and she never seemed very comfortable with a bit.
Bitless isn't for everyone and it's not for every horse so I suggest you find out what your horse likes best and go from there. :)
Thanks for the reply! That is what I've herd others say re the Natural vs the Dr Cook's.
My mare goes fine in a hakamore and a rope halter, but has been ridden soley in a d-snaffle for the last three months (also very well, very light) neatly a sliding stop with no contact etc.
How is the control level in an emergency? Say if the horse were to bolt?
If the horse is responsive to the bridle in a normal situation, then it's fine in an emergency as well. My little lesson kids (like 5-7 yrs old) have been able to pull up my mare if she spooks from a horsefly bite or one of the neighbor's dogs that has gotten loose and charges her. She normally pulls up well anyway, and rarely spooks, but proverbial "stuff" happens, lol.
We have put a LOT of trail miles on her with the bitless and she's responded well to it in all situations. It's nice to let her graze a bit when we take a break, or use the reins to tie her for a minute.
Well, I use(d) a hackamore on Ice, and the control is actually very good. He's bolted on me twice, the first time I was able to bring him to a halt in under a minute, the second time I lost my reins, but I'm sure I would have been able to halt him that time as well.
I've looked at the Nutural bridle and I like it also, but not the price, lol.
Moss Rock Endurance makes a cross under that's more affordable. The only difference is the reins make the cross-under straps, so you have to use their reins. I like cotton web or leather reins personally. I'm not a big fan of biothane reins.
I use a cowboy drop nose halter on my mare. She responds SO much better without a bit! With a bit, she gapes open her mouth and ignores it. Without a bit, she is an angel. She stops on a dime and gives to pressure very well. My headstall was looking a little plain so I took it into a saddlery and got silver pieces attached. I seem to have way more control without a bit when she feels frisky and out of control.
I choose not to go bitless as my horses go well in a bit and I like the refinement it gives me. However I have ridden a friends horse in a mechanical hack as he has major bit issues - he is much calmer in a hack but is also strong and goey so a simply side pull or similar would not be enough for him. He goes well in a mechanical hack - I did gameing on him in it - And one rein stopped him at the end of races. We don't ahve them on in the pic, but we cover the chin strap with wool so it doesn't rub.
Unless the hack is adjusted really, really wrong - there is little to no chance of you breaking the horses nose.
Also, any hack with shanks should NOT be ridden with a contact, it should be treated as a western curb and neck reined.
Here is a pic of us at the Games comp with the hack on.
My gelding has improved 500% since I started using the Dr. Cook's bridle. My control is greatly improved- he stops, turns and backs up much more easily. He also will now hack out alone on the trail and has stopped rearing. He now is more receptive to leg and seat cues, and I attribute that, at least in part to not being preoccupied with his bit.
The horse I am excersizing currently prefers a french link snaffle to the bitless, sidepull or indian bosal. I suppose it depends on the horse.
Brand-wise, I prefer the Dr. Cook's, but it also depends on how your horse responds. The Nurtural may work better for you.
I will sometimes ride bitless if it is either really cold, on days when I am lazy, or when I just want to give my horses a break from the bit. I personally really dislike the whole design of the mechanical hacks so I either use a rope halter or a bosal hackamore.
Here is my boy Denny in my bosal hackamore
And here is my boy Dobe in my soft hackamore (rope halter with mecate reins)
Also, as far as control goes, it all depends on training. Both of mine respond just as well bitless as they do in a bit but like my Dad always says "It's not what you put on their head, but what you put in their head that matters."
I use a side-pull bridle for my 10-year-old quarterhorse and it works very well. He trail rides well with it and I've never had trouble with him stopping for me. He bends and flexes well too. The reason I went with the side-pull is because though he is a good boy he always fought any bit I ever used in his mouth. It truly didn't matter which bit I would try. At first I thought he was being naughty but once I tried the side-pull he immediately put his head down for me and took it and has never given me any trouble with bridling or riding him since. It definitely was the right choice for him!