Horse started running through the bit after trying a hackamore, wish I never did - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Horse started running through the bit after trying a hackamore, wish I never did

I rescued my appendix 3 years ago and I have no history aside what I have found out about him myself: He is in his early twenties, has been taught to neck rein, knows a barrel pattern quite well, he's perfect on the trailer, and has enough energy for 5 horses. I am very much a laid back rider and only trail ride. My horse has always been strong and powerful but when I said "whoa" he would practically do an immediate/sliding stop even at a gallop.
This past fall after a ride I realized the bit I had been using (basic western port bit) had a crack in it and had made a sore, I felt bad and thought I'd give his mouth a rest and use a hackamore... The first time I used it he was fine the whole ride but the last time we were cantering he randomly started breathing funny and almost seemed to panic (rasping breathing, mouth open, head low, and refused to stop cantering- he just completely tuned me out)- I was on an organized ride and I had MANY people look at the placement of the hackamore on him and they all said it was on correct, not cutting off his breathing or anything.
I stopped using the hackamore and went back to a bit after the sore was gone but since then when I say whoa or cue him to stop at the canter he lowers his head and it is like i do not exist. This is not always the case and most of the time I can EVENTUALLY get him to stop but it's like a constant fight and there have been times I have had to reach up and grab his head to turn him tightly to get him to stop before he runs over people or takes me into the street (he doesn't have the best balance and I'm a large rider and I fear I'll flip him.) In the ring he is a perfect angel so no matter how many times I try and recondition him to whoa in the ring he already gets it. He has that thoroughbred mentality of GO GO GO, and will go for HOURS UPON HOURS before getting tired this is great when we do our long trail rides, but no when he's not stopping at the canter, or I'm trying to get him to re-learn how to stop.
My horse that use to make me happy is making me not want to ride anymore...I just don't know where to go from here I feel like it's just getting worse not better, any suggestions would be appreciated. has anyone ever had a problem like this after using a hackamore??
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 02:26 AM
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I think you biggest problem, is the use of heavy hands while using the hackamore... That's always the culprit when it comes to problems with horses running through anything. If you are using enough contact on a simple curb to give your horse a sore, crack or not, you are heavy handed..
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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The crack was where his cheek met the mouthpiece and he had a little area where it pinched his lip, so I thought the hackamore would be nice so I didnt have anything touching that area. He never did this before I tried using the hackamore.

Last edited by Corin; 01-29-2013 at 02:44 AM.
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 02:39 AM
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Corin...I am sorry you are having this problem.
I would be concerned about the reaction using the hackamore. Since he is an older gent it might be possible that something was pinching. When you went back to a bit did you use the same style or did you make a change?
You know, I would have a vet check him to see if there is a physical issue. I feel it's good to start there in the process of elimination. It seems odd that he would start a bad behavior out of the blue.
There is also a technique called a one-rein-stop. You might look into it. I have used it successfully. I would worry about grabbing the head as I would be concerned about both horse and rider going down.
If you don't find a physical problem it may be a good idea to find someone you trust to evaluate the situation and give you some pointers.
Good luck to you. These situations can be frustrating and frightening.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Dustbunny. He has been to the vet recently (full work up for his nevicular) corrective shoeing, back x-rays... the works, everything is ok except for some arthritic changes (and of course the nevicular )
I guess its not impossible that it didnt pinch him? but I had so many people check it and his reaction was so bizzare: we were all doing a nice canter as a group, barley any contact and he had such a weird response.
I went back to the same style bit, just new since the other pinch his cheek, he still seem to run through it: Ive tried ALL kinds of bits, he seemed to hate the combination bits the most (he did the same bizzare reaction with a combo bit too), or anything similar that puts any type of pressure on his nose. I currently have him in a pelham and use an english rein: so far this is working the best out of all ive tried. I usually try to work the bit and get him to acknowledge I exist before the one rein, EVENTUALLY he will stop but It takes a while. When I use the one rein he will stop but he whips around at a canter like he's still a barrel racer and with all the ice I don't want him whipping around. I just want him to stop like he use-to...
I use to be able to ride him in a halter with just a lead rope, one reined, and use voice commands, but now if I let him canter he'll take off running (which was the incident where I had to grab his head and physically turn him into the fence) I use to be able to hop on and just enjoy him with no worries.
I hoping when the weather breaks I can work with him more and get over this, and not worry about tipping him over
I think I somehow traumatized my horse with nose pressure?
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post #6 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 07:36 AM
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How is the curb strap adjusted? What kind of bit did you go to after the mechanical hackamore?
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 08:53 AM
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Welcome to the Horse Forum. I'm sorry you are having problems. I do not know enough about your horse or your riding to know whether you are heavy handed or not or to know if your horse just 'took a notion' and pounced on a gap in your control available with the hackamore (a mechanical hackamore I assume?)

This is what I would do if someone brought me this horse with this history: I would put a short-shanked 3-piece colt bit on him and teach him to give me his head (now called a 'one rein stop').

So, find a short-shanked 'colt bit' with a 'dog-bone', three piece mouthpiece. These little bits have a lot more control in them than a simple snaffle, but they can be used two-handed just like a snaffle. They are a real nice transition bit and a real nice bit to correct problems in.

Go to this old post I wrote on how to safely teach a one rein stop. How we teach a 'One Rein Stop'
You have to teach this over a period of several rides. You are lucky that he still rides good in an arena. You need to teach him to immediately stop and give you his head any time you want it at a walk, trot and a lope. Any horse of any age will learn to do this very quickly if you follow the teaching guide in the link I gave you.

This technique will not only teach him to stop whenever you ask for his head, it will make him go back to riding like he used to. He will start listening to the bit again instead of tuning you out. The comfortable little colt bit is going to be a good bit for you to keep riding him him after he gets back to being responsive. They rehabilitate very quickly with this technique and little bit. It is a very 'forgiving' bit for any rider to use and is what I put on most of my trail horses when they are ridden.

If a horse gets high headed to avoid this bit, (or a snaffle as well), they require a pretty good timing and skill level, but these little 'colt bits' have a big 'tear-drop' rein ring and they can be used with a running martingale. Just do not set the martingale too low. They should be set so that they do nothing until the horse's head goes too high. In other words, they go in a straight line between a well-placed head and a rider's hands.

Any time anyone used a running martingale, they have to be very careful that the martingale ring cannot slip over the rein ring on the bit. Either the rein ring needs to be too big for this to happen (like with the colt bits) or a rubber or leather 'rein stop' needs to be put on the rein between the martingale ring and the bit.
Hope this helps.
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 09:33 AM
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Corin, welcome to the forum!

Have you tried to ride not in a ring but in a barn field or next to the ring? (still confined, but more "open")

Also was anything in his diet changed by any chance? (may be more grain or something)

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post #9 of 14 Old 01-29-2013, 11:26 AM
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It is a misconception that hackamores can be gentler than bits if used wrong they can be worse. You have to remember there are sensitive facial nerves that the hackamore can hurt. A hackemore requires a light hand IF you are heavy handed with him you could of hurt him and pinched nerves. Are you sure or was in the right spot? People put hackamores in the wrong place all the time but think they have it on correct. I see it all the time it's either too high or too low. I use a hackamore all the time but I can switch to a bit and ride with zero problems.
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Last edited by Peppy Barrel Racing; 01-29-2013 at 11:30 AM.
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-30-2013, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys for all your help.

Thank you guys for all your help.
I have given up on the hackamore, or any bit that puts pressure on his nose, he even did the bizzare breathing reaction in a combo bit and he seems to dislike them so his nose can be naked if hes happier that way. I have used a hackamore on many other horses and never seen this type of reaction.
my guy is hard because he tends to be so well behaved in the ring, but I think I will do a lot more work on our one-stop (maybe try him in the colt bit?) and hopefully we can work this out together and get his attention back on me, if not I may have to bring in the professionals since it has been a long time since I have had a lesson/trainer whip me into shape.
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