I used a mechanical hackamore for years on one of my horses and loved it. He hated the bit but needed more control than a side pull or regular hackamore; I like a mechanical hackamore on the right horse.
Are you a fan of mechanical hackamores? Why or why not? Please be polite to others and respectful of opinions. =) Posted via Mobile Device
My mare rides in a Little S Hackamore. It's a type of mechanical, but it's much gentler than the typical hackamore. My mare does go in a bit but she hates them (was a commercial trail horse for a few years) and going in the little S is a night and day difference, she works so much better in it - calmer, her cues are lighter, etc.
The downside is that I don't think she has as much "whoa" in a bad situation. There's been one situation on the road where she was in a blind panic (we were waling at this point, I wasn't riding), and the ONLY thing that let me keep a hold of her was the reins on her bit having enough bite to keep her from bolting into the oncoming traffic. If it was the hack, I have a feeling she would have plowed right through it - she's wonderful with it when she's calm but I think if it hits the fan it won't have that bite to stop her. Nose pressure doesn't come through that panic as well as a bit, and I don't want to use a mechanical with longer shanks when she doesn't need it.
Of course the solution to that is to train her better, but you never know what could happen. So, even if she goes amazing in the little S, if we go somewhere that could cause issues she'll get ridden in a bit - at least for now.
I like little S and Flower hacks for general riding purposes if there is a legitimate reason not to use a bit (horse has a weird mouth, has been injured, endurance races and needs to be able to eat/drink very easily, etc) but I think all horses should at least know how to respond to a bit even if it isn't their favorite. I'm not a fan of the Little S with a rope noseband or combo though, because too many beginners use them and they can be harsh.
I'm not a fan of german hacks for anyone. I realize that if your horse is finished, neck reins, and you just BARELY have to use your reins as aids that they might be ok, but my experience is that if your horse is that good it can go just as well in a little S, snaffle, or even a side pull too. It is far too much force and many people don't realize that the 10 inch shank gives 10 x the pressure you are giving, so a small tug feels like a giant yank to the horse. I don't see that as necessary at all.
I do NOT like mechanical hacks of the traditional sort at all, the shanks are way too long and they're often put on horses not near educated enough, that is often paired with people not placing a hackamore properly. If the horse isn't broke enough to pack a spoon bit, they should have to have that much leverage on their nose either.
If a horse doesn't have much whoa, or is stiff through turns, etc, biting up or going to a harsher hack is the last thing to do. New horses with problems get ridden in a rope halter for a few weeks until they're soft as butter. On a horse that has a bolting, rearing, bucking problem, or plain ignoring cues, I feel much safer with just a rope halter on the horse. When they're soft in that they graduate to a snaffle. I don't go to a curb, bit or hack until my horses are pretty much finished.
If i'm going to go to a bitless option with leverage i'll use a little S hack. They're better balanced and are more mild than a traditional hack.
I personally don't use them, but do not have any thing against them in the right hands. I hear so many people saying " bits are cruel, I ride a hack instead". I have seen horse with broken noses from them. It all comes down to, in my opinion, train the horse first and make sure it responds with little pressure and cues, then put whatever bridle you want on it. Heck, I catch slack for working my horse to eventually have her straight up in the bridle with a spade bit. Its not the bit and bridle, its the previous training and rider's skill that matters.
To add.. Any type of bit/hack can be cruel...
Mechanical hack can break a nose and damage curb nerves, snaffle bits can damage lips, bars and break teeth, curb bits can damage bars, tongue and curb nerves, bosal and halters cam damage nerves, skin and can damage nose. Any device in the wrong hands spells disaster for the animal...proper instruction and patients is the key...I can't stand it when people say "I changed to the (whatever bit) to put more whoa on my horse" that is rediculous. Try putting more time in on training instead of running to a quick fix for their lack of patients and skill as a trainer or horseman.....
I've had good luck with mechanical hacks on certain horses. Not all horses like them and you can't always accomplish what you want in them (for instance, my Mustang wouldn't really collect in one, and it's not something you would ride with constant contact) but for some horses they do as well or better in a mechanical hack as a bit. Depends on the horse.
I like them for trail riding because I feel I have control if I need it, but the rest of the time they can go down the trail on a loose rein and I feel like it gives us both a feeling of freedom. When the pressure is off, it is totally off.
Right now I am riding my 3 yr old in one because he is having tooth troubles and slings his head when riding with a bit. I ride in one similar to a "little S" with a flat leather noseband.
One of my favorites is a Sleister hackamore with a flat leather noseband but I haven't tried that on the youngster because it has a lot of leverage. They make a "shorty" version that I would love to try but haven't yet.
To make it even milder, you can remove the curb chain and replace it with a leather curb strap.
I liken a mechanical hackamore to a curb bit. The leverage is very similar and to me they function much the same.
I've used them for years on trained horses that work a lot off seat and legs. They are my go to bit for trail riding as I do give the horse a break and grazing time. I find they are much like using a long shanked curb bit so I use it accordingly. Mine has the bicycle chain nose band covered with a latex tubing. I wrapped electrical tape around this then made a sheepskin noseband.