Bit vs, Hackamore - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-12-2008, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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Bit vs, Hackamore

I wasn't sure whether to put this under Training or Tack and Equipment. Anyway, Spree has been trained to ride in a snaffle bit. Not an eggbutt, just your basic O ring snaffle. Obviously I'm not her owner, and I wasn't around when any of her training was taking place. She's a very willing mare under saddle, but she's constantly chomping on the bit while I'm riding her. I make an effort to be light in the hands, and try and use my seat and legs to direct her. She does well in turning, but we have a problem with her brakes from day one. I sit deep and do all the things you're supposed to signal a horse to stop, and she'll keep on going. I'll never pull hard on her mouth, and will circle her around again and try the stop until we can get it right.

Tonight I decided I was going to try her in the hackamore for the first time. Her owner has a mechanical hackamore with a nice padded nose band. I wasn't too worried, as I was riding bareback and she's very responsive without a saddle, and I only walk bareback because I'm still working on my balance. Honestly, I was shocked at the difference. Not only was she even more responsive than normal to seat/leg aids, the slightest bit of pressure on one rein and she was turning. AND, all I had to do was sit a bit deep and say "Hoooo..." and she'd stop. I barely had time to apply pressure to the reins! Needless to say, it was a great ride, and I was really surprised at the difference in her attitude and responsiveness under the hackamore verses the bit.

My question is this: Could she have been improperly trained to accept the bit? Does she just need more miles on her with the bit? Could it be a health issue, and should I suggest to her owner that she get her teeth checked out? She's 8 years old, green broke, had a 30 day refresher course back in March, but before that I think she hadn't been worked with much at all.

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post #2 of 6 Old 09-13-2008, 03:40 AM
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Ive known a LOT of horses that chomp on the bit whilst riding and i have found it to be one of three things:

1. bit too small, large or incorrect diameter, or pinching at her lips,
2. sore teeth and/or mouth,
3. incorrectly fitting bridle (bit hanging too low or pulled up too high).

I'm not sure that she would have been trained in a hackamore (i dont know many that do train in it). once i've eliminated all of the above, i usually try the horse out in a headstall to see what happens (in a small yard of course). more often than not, if they aren't anxious and are responding, i'll change them over to a hackamore or bosal.

i had one mare that chomped constantly for no other reason than just playing with the bit. she also had bad brakes unfortunately, but i worked with her, swapped her to a straight bar and she went brilliantly.

My arab HATED jointed bits, was a dream in a straight bar, so maybe the nutcracker is giving her grief as well. in some mouths, the (jointed) bit tends to V up into the roof of their mouth, which can cause them to toss their head, chomp the bit and/or try to avoid it (ie stopping).

hope this helps

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post #3 of 6 Old 09-16-2008, 02:49 PM
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Location: Alberta, Canada
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Like Zane said, there could be a lot of different things causing her discomfort with the bit.
The length of the bit needs to match her mouth so it's not pinching her cheeks.
If it's too tight it will be pulling up the corners of her mouth causing discomfort.
If it's too loose it could be banging off her teeth.

At eight years old, it is probably a good idea to have a Equine Dentist come out and take a look at her teeth.
I am assuming that she's had her wolf teeth pulled if they came out, but she may need filing for sharp edges.

I would, personally, avoid hackamores all together. I'm not a fan of them or the way they work.
Bosals, however, I really do like and have started to train my gelding in one.

Good luck with the mare!

PS - a quick trip to the round pen lunging session to re-inforce the whoa never hurts either! :)

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post #4 of 6 Old 09-16-2008, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks you two.

I asked her owner if she'd ever gotten the mare's teeth checked, and she said no because "she seems to chew her food fine." I've looked at and checked the fit of the bit and it seems to fit well to me.

I also found out that before the mare's 30 days professional training back in March, she hadn't been ridden in a bit before and according to the trainer was having trouble accepting the bit.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."-Mahatma Gandhi
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-16-2008, 03:06 PM
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So she was started in a hackamore/bosal then.
Most trainers don't anymore... actually, the only one I know who does is my brother in law, but my sister and I finally convinced him to start his stud with a snaffle. LOL

Some horses can chew their food fine, but that doesn't mean that they don't have an abcess in their mouth, a stuck piece of food which could cause infection, or even a tooth that may be coming in under another one.

Odds are she may not have any problems, however it never hurts to check, especially if she's never had her wolf teeth pulled. Lots of health problems develops from their mouth, unfortantely.

But it could be she just needs time to get used to the feel and how to carry the bit as well, if she hasn't had much practice in one.
Some horses catch on really quick, others it takes a while.
And, some horses were just meant to be rode in a bosal, but that's kind of a drawback if she ever wanted to show the mare.

Whispering Secret Arabians
Registered Solid and Sabino Arabians
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-16-2008, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
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She's actually in the process of trying to sell the mare right now, but no one has wanted to buy her. (Quite frankly, in this horse market, I think she has her priced way too high for a green broke mare). I think Spree would be a great show horse some day (she has really fluid movements that would look great in dressage, and she loves free jumping).

I did suggest getting her teeth checked, but I don't want to come across as overbearing on a horse that isn't mine. I don't think her owner knows much about how Spree was started; she bought her from the farm next door where she'd just been sitting in a pasture. Who knows? Maybe the 30-day training was her first experience w/a bit.

I will keep working with her in it, so she continues getting the training there.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."-Mahatma Gandhi
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