Need opinions! Western Snaffle vs. Gag/Hack Combination?

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Need opinions! Western Snaffle vs. Gag/Hack Combination?

This is a discussion on Need opinions! Western Snaffle vs. Gag/Hack Combination? within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category

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  • 1 Post By DuckDodgers

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    11-19-2013, 07:24 PM
Need opinions! Western Snaffle vs. Gag/Hack Combination?

I'm needing some opinions about these two different bits. I've ridden all my life and I've always used a ring snaffle, a western snaffle, or just a mechanical hackamore, so I am unfamiliar with this new combination. My husband and I recently purchased a very nice animal for our daughter and he responds SO well even to just a halter, so I'm debating not even putting a bit in his mouth (he's so sensitive that he will do a side pass with just a halter). BUT, before I make that call, I'd like some opinions about these different combinations - especially the gag/hackamore combination as I have never dealt with it before. Good/bad? What would you do???
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    11-19-2013, 07:35 PM
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If he does well in a halter, chances are he'll be just fine in an O ring or French link snaffle. Don't put the gag/hack combo on him- those can be nasty if you don't know how to use them and have SUPER soft hands. Less is more when it comes to bits! Is this was his old owner suggested that you put on him?
    11-19-2013, 08:19 PM
She isn't necessarily telling me to keep him in the gag/hack combo but I thought that if that's what he's been used to then I'd just stick with it. But if it's too much for him then I will change it up some. I don't know much about the gag/hack combo but I did think that it looked like too much control for him that he doesnt need. She has another horse that she uses a similar set up on that DOES need that kind of control or she tends to scare some people, but he doesnt do any of the "dancing" that the mare does.
    11-19-2013, 08:47 PM
Green Broke
Just use a plain single or double jointed snaffle would be my suggestion. Definitely don't use a mechanical hackamore. I'm another in the "less is more" when it comes to bits category
BlueHoney5775 likes this.
    11-19-2013, 09:06 PM
Both of my horses are able to be ridden in halters with reins snapped on and do everything they know the same. However I think if your horse has no problem taking the bit there is no reason not to ride with one but if you chose to stay in a halter or switch to a hackamore I would keep your horse accustomed to having a bit put in his mouth.
    11-19-2013, 09:30 PM
I've used a mechanical hackamore on a horse who needed more control than this guy does - so if I used anything besides just a halter that would be it unless he does need more than that once you're actually on him. But my issue is that I don't know anything about the gag bit. But it kinda sounds like a harsher bit than he needs to me??
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    11-20-2013, 01:35 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by NicoleH    
I've used a mechanical hackamore on a horse who needed more control than this guy does - so if I used anything besides just a halter that would be it unless he does need more than that once you're actually on him. But my issue is that I don't know anything about the gag bit. But it kinda sounds like a harsher bit than he needs to me??
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Mechanical hackamores can be very harsh if you don't know what you're doing. I would NOT use one if you are not VERY aware and used to how they work. I may be misunderstanding, but you've never used a mechanical hackamore and that's what he's been ridden in? But he can go just fine in a plain halter? Then don't go in the mechanical hackamore. Either stick to a halter, or switch to a simple snaffle. If you want to put something other than a halter on the horse, but keep them in tune to being ridden in a halter then have them go in the simple snaffle. Ride them once or twice a week in a plain halter to make sure they keep with it.

I personally wouldn't use a mechanical hackamore on ANY horse. All of the ones I've seen may have been bitless, but they've had wicked leverage. If you think that it's what your horse needs then I wouldn't be riding them bitless in the first place. No bit doesn't equal better necessarily, especially when there's leverage involved. Why do you want to use one, other than it's what the horse is used to? If your daughter has anything other than impeccable hands then I wouldn't dare touch it. Others may have a different opinion, but I wouldn't touch it. I recently got one with a saddle I bought (the guy didn't want or need it) and it looked scary. I fully anticipate it sitting in my tack box never to be used!
    11-20-2013, 07:04 AM
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    11-20-2013, 07:06 AM
No... I used a mechanical hackamore for years with my old gelding and at times he needed more control than this horse does, but he also knew leg cues also: I'm a fan of leg cues. I've heard all the rumors about how a mechankcal hack can break a jaw of a horse if you're harsh with them but every horse I've ever put in one responds awesome to it without yanking a piece of metal around their mouths. This horse has been used in a gag/hack combo. I'm familiar with a hackamore and a lot of the snaffle bits (I've been riding all my life) what I'm not use to and asking for advice over is the gag/hack combo. My thought is that the combination of the two is too harsh for this guy. He's been used as a kids lesson horse with 3 kids on him at once and taken to all kinds of events where people who'd never been on a horse got to ride him. The lady I got him from is a friend of mine. She has another horse she uses the same combo on but that horse tends to be a LOT harder to handle than Big Boy (she's a QH/Arab, very high strung)- she tends to try her rider and "dances" when she's corrected, so for a horse like that, I understand needing more control. But my thought is: if you don't need that control then why would I put him in it?

The thing that I myself like about a mechanical is that it offers enough control to stop them without rubbing their noses raw like I've seen a straight pull or a halter do before. Now, of course I do understand that not ALL horses can be ridden bit less - in fact most can't, and I know that. But what I liked about Big Boy (and why we eventually got him) is because he's been used with so many people who simply didn't have a clue what to do with a horse; so with someone who does know what they're doing (me and my husband for now, until my daughter is old enough to control him herself) he shouldn't need to be that heavily restrained. Does this make since?? He's not been used in JUST a hackamore, he's had the bit also.

I'm thinking I will play with his tack a little and use a simple snaffle on him and see how he does. If he does well enough in just that then I'll downgrade to a hackamore alone and see if he's OK with that and around close I may just use a knotted halter..
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    11-20-2013, 03:14 PM
The bit or hackamore doesn't control the horse. If a halter or side pull is rubbing, it is adjusted incorrectly.

A mechanical hackamore is not a down grade from a snaffle. A snaffle has no leverage to it, whereas a mechanical hackamore often has quite a bit because many are made with very long shanks. If a horse is dancing around when corrected the horse does not need more leverage, they need more training.

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