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burdock87 04-17-2011 09:22 PM

bosal vs bit vs hackamore on mustang gelding
Hey all! I have a 3-going-on-4 year old mustang gelding. I got him in November from a friend that got him from a friend (in a game of, seriously!) The original owner had him on a meat-market truck and beat him to get him into the trailer. When I got him, he was extremely terrified of people. It took me 3 months to be able to put a halter on him, and let me tell you, that was a chore! After 4 months of owning him, and brushing him and working with him, he FINALLY took grain from my hands. I have been working on riding him, and he has learned to accept me on his back with no problems. He's still a little timid, and refuses to trot on his own..but that's beyond teh point.

I am currently riding him in a halter (he's only been really ridden twice), and it's just not working very well. He doesn't take off, or do anything that young horses normally do, but he doesn't want to stop when I ask him.

I really hesitate to use a bit on him since he is still terribly mouth-shy (it was a mess to give him his wormer!) and don't know much about bosals or hackamores. I realize they use leverage, and they are only as cruel as the hands that use them... I tend to have soft hands - I want my horse to respect me, not fear me. I guess I'm curious to know what everyone else uses, and if you've trained young horses, what has worked for you.


smrobs 04-17-2011 09:37 PM

First, welcome to the forum and congrats on the new-ish horse :D. I would certainly love to see some pictures of him, I love Mustangs.

I always start my greenies in a simple loose ring snaffle, but that is just a personal preference. I would avoid a mechanical hackamore though, they aren't great on trained horses and can be a train wreck on a greenie that doesn't understand the basic concepts of pressure yet. A bosal can be a good tool, but it is very important to know how to properly use one. It is very easy to either skin up their nose/jaw or teach them to ignore it if handled improperly.

The most important thing, regardless of what you have on his head, will be repetition and reward. Whenever you are riding and ask for the stop, ask with both your seat and your hands, also, using a verbal "whoa" might help as well. Keep the pressure constant until he stops his feet and then immediately release pressure and take a neutral seat. Over and over and over again. At first, he will likely nose out and keep walking or tuck his nose and keep walking, sometimes they will walk sideways but just keep that constant light pressure until his feet stop (and most normal horses will eventually, I promise :D). If he doesn't seem interested in stopping even with repetition, then start using one rein to stop him and work your way back up to two.

Teaching him the one-rein stop wouldn't be a bad plan of action either. Make sure that you have him supple and responsive to each side and take one rein until his feet stop. That is a tool that will come in incredibly handy if the day comes when he tries to buck or spook and bolt.

In my experience, the best way to get a horse over being mouth shy is to just treat them like any other horse and handle their mouth a lot. I use a bit on all of mine and I don't make a big deal out of bridling them, I just stay as soft and gentle as I can while I bridle them. I avoid letting the bit bump their teeth and I just move with them if they lift their head or back up or walk forward. If they are really bad about it, I will give them some kind of treat immediately after they accept the bit and lots of verbal praise/petting/scratching. Usually, after a few times when they figure out that being bridled really isn't going to kill them, they relax about the whole issue and don't mind having their mouth handled so much.

But, his mouth shy issue will never get any better if you avoid it :wink:.

burdock87 04-17-2011 10:08 PM

I know things won't get better if they aren't worked on. :S It took me over a month to get back on him after he spazzed and threw me. The worst part is I knew it was entirely my fault! But he's doing great now, and I don't think I could be happier! We went on our first trail ride with 2 other horses, and we crossed water, trotted, stopped and stood, let me dismount and mount on both sides, crossed ditches, walked through cows and had the dog following. :D

I guess I'm afraid of pushing him too hard (with being head/mouth shy, etc) and pushing him further into his shell. It took so long to get him to allow me to touch him, and for him to relax while I do it. He's finally learned that grooming is GOOD. He will *almost* fall asleep while I do it.

He's got a long way to go (and it looks like I do too!) but I think together we'll make a great team.

Here are a few links to pictures of him. ^.^

quarterhorse 04-17-2011 10:40 PM

I completly agree with smrobs. You have got to teach the one rein stop. Its pretty much the emergency brake. When I start my colts or when i work with rescues I usually use a loose ring french link snaffle, for it is a bit more forgiving on the tonge unlike the single jointed snaffle. I have also used the Myler combination bit on some of my horses. Only use this bit if you taught your horse about poll and nose pressure. Myler bits a little spendy but they are worth it.

smrobs 04-18-2011 11:50 AM

Aw, he's beautiful.

Henk Plompen 04-18-2011 02:35 PM


First of all I would like to tell you that I appreciate what you do!

I had a similar case with a Criollo.

In my opinion, you have to do ground work until the mustang understands the concept of 'pressure'.
As long as a horse does not move sideways, away from your thumb, or backwards when you put pressure on his halter, he is not ready to be mounted.

Buy a rubber straight bit, put minth or peanut butter on it and gradually put it on without working with the bit. He'll get used to it.

Never use a hackamore unless your horse has a toothacke: hackamores look friendly but they are hard as hell!

I hope that if you train him with a simple broken bit first, you will have the priviledge to ride him with a Bosal one day!


burdock87 04-18-2011 11:30 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone! Blue and I have spent a lot of time with ground work, asking him to move when I push on him (yielding his hips is ok; he's not so great with his forehand yet). We've been working on voice commands, and he's starting to back up when I ask him verbally.

We have ridden a couple times, yesterday was his first trail ride, and we took a huge risk riding today alone. I let everyone know where I was heading, though! We went out into the cow pasture and crossed the water again, and watched a young calf run and buck around then bellow cuz he couldn't find his Mama. Blue stood nicely as a couple cows ran past us to get to the baby.

Today I got a training bit and he took it like a champ. He raised his head up, but took the bit nicely. I let him get used to it before getting on him, and used verbal commands with gentle pressure. He is learning very quickly, and I hope to keep riding him with others and alone as he gets more "stable" to get him to be the best horse I have ever owned. :)

smrobs 04-19-2011 07:34 PM

Great to hear that you are making progress with him :D.

burdock87 04-19-2011 08:42 PM

I am very excited to be riding him. From what I understand, he was given away as a youngster because he was going to be "too small" for what his first owners wanted. Then he was going to go to Mexico for meat, but was pulled aside for being "pretty," and worthy of more money than meat price, then he was given to the ranch hand (he works for the guy I'm renting the house from) as payment for something (I'm pretty sure the ranch hand said he was the winnings of a game of cards, instead of cash); and the ranch hand told me if I could get "that **** horse" to like me, I could have him. So, I got "that **** horse" for free, essentially because he seemed to bond with me.

Nobody can believe that I'm able to touch him, let alone pick up his front feet (he doesn't like having his back feet messed with yet), and ride him. I'm hoping that if I keep riding him like I have been, I can take him to his first show in June, but we'll have to see how he reacts to everything and I'm going to try to take him to some of the shows around here just to expose him to all the activity.

I am thrilled to death to have him as a partner!

smrobs 04-20-2011 01:16 AM

Wow, what a life that guy has had already. I'm glad that he found someone who can give him the benefit of the doubt that he can actually become something more. :D

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