Eventing in a hackamore
The boy I am riding right now was trained by a young rider who used his mouth to balance. As a result, I have to deal with his head-tossing and general reluctance to be on the bit. He will do it, and he is getting better, but he's just not used to having to accept something in his mouth even if it is soft and gentle (it's a pee-wee). It occurred to me the other day I could always ride in a hackamore... Are they legal? Is it possible to get a nice headset in dressage with one? If so, what are some better brands/varieties? I wouldn't want to completely brush over his bit problem, but I don't want to constantly fight, either, and if there's an option he'd be happier and more willing with I'm all for it! Another concern is that he's an Arab, so quite headstrong, would I have sufficient control?
They're legal in the jumping phases but not in dressage. The horse must be in a snaffle (non-leverage bit) for dressage.
It's fine for show jumping and cross country, but for dressage you need a snaffle. I'd say ride half the time trying to get him used to a bit and the other in the hackamore.
i used to do xc and stadium in a hackamore with a mare i used to event. the mare liked it !
there can be a lot of pros to a hackamore, but make sure you select one that is gentle. because it works off leverage, some can be rather harsh. all too often people make the incorrect assumption that because there is nothing in the horse's mouth, it has to be softer than a bit, but that's not always the case.
sounds like you have a good plan in place and are going to still address the bitting issues, while looking for something to offer some relief while in the jumping phases.
another suggestion that may work and may help with bitting is a myler combination bit. my hard to bit OTTB who HATES snaffles or anything jointed, but also tends to lean and pull on a mullen pelham really likes their combo bit. it lets me adjust the nose pressure v. bit action so that i can use very little bit and more nose pressure. my other horse, his full sister, prefers more bit, less nose but will get strong when field hunting so for her i use the same bit but with less nose action so it just serves as a reminder when need be. the mouthpiece itself is limited jointed, so doesn't bother my ultra sensitive OTTB's low soft palate and mouth. they mylers come in a pretty nice combination of mouth - with nose options, so you can choose a very very soft mouth with the nose action and adjust as he gets more used to the bit. not dressage legal, but may give some relief why working towards accepting the bit.
the myler combination bits are nice bc they have built in stops to prevent over-rotation of the bit or the use of poll pressure (so it's limited to nose and bit action - any poll pressure is negligible).
they also come in a 3 ring variation to control how much and when the nose action kicks in - move up for less nose, more bit, move down for more nose, less bit.
their comfort snaffles are also great (and i believe now some of the basic ones are dressage legal - you would have to check) because they have limited flexion and therefore are very soft on the mouth. i use one (without the combo - just basic comfort snaffle) for starting youngsters.
some of the myler bits are dressage legal (the snaffles) yay! so this may be a good option to get him used to being in a bit again and liking it!
Great news re: Dressage-legal Myler bits
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