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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My young (he's 3, but maybe a bit mentally younger than some other horses at that age) gelding is currently getting ready to learn ground driving so that he will be more ready for a rider when the time comes to start breaking him.

So right now we are practicing with saddling, bridling, etc. But he doesn't seem to like the bit, right now I'm using a rubber-coated snaffle (happy mouth), and my trainer told me that I might try a happy mouth bit without a joint in the middle since some horses don't like the joint, but I think his issue with it comes more from not really liking things in his mouth (and I also think it's bothering his teeth since he's been chewing a lot (all the time, bit or not) and losing his caps). So I was wondering if it would be okay to use a hackamore on him instead for ground driving?

I don't want to make him less sensitive to a bit/bridle, and I know young horses in full bridles can sometimes be hard-mouthed as adults, and that's kind of what a hackamore reminds me of, but since they don't actually have a bit and having never used one for a young horse I wanted to ask!

If so, what kind of hackamore do you suggest?
 

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The first question you should ask yourself, is "How are my horses teeth?"
If your horse doesn't like or isn't taking the bit, there could be something wrong inside his mouth and I suggest you take a look at that before anything else. One of my horses wouldn't take the bit for a while, but when they got their teeth floated he had to get one pulled because it was almost rotting and causing a ton of pain.

On my horse we used to use a horseman's hackamore - all it is is a rope halter with reins, and it works very nicely. He listens very nicely and responds the same as if he had a bit in.
Me, I would recommend that one. It works very nicely and the horse should respond nicely as well.
My horse hasn't been ridden with a hackamore in forever, so he is used to the bit and got out of the habit of using a hackamore. So to train him back into the hackamore, I have both halter and bridle on. I used the hackamore as much as I an and if my horse isn't sure, I give him a hint or tell him what to do the first time with the bridle. For my horses it usually never takes too long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks :), I will check one of those out. You don't think it will make him less sensitive to an eventual bit and full bridle at all?

Also, I forgot to mention in the OP (and now it won't let me edit it), that he has had his teeth looked at and they are fine. They're just "itching" at the moment because they need to come out, so he's chewing on everything he can, to try and get his caps out. Much like a kid who won't stop wiggling their loose baby tooth. The issue with the bit is not that he's chewing on it or playing with it, but that he's throwing his head and looks genuinely uncomfortable with it (which I am unsure of whether it's his natural response since he's very picky about what's in his mouth, or if it's because the bit is bothering his loose caps). So I would like to switch to a hackamore at least for now, I just don't want to do it at the expense of his sensitivity to pressure.
 

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this is a situation where the bosal hackamore is, to me, the perfect option. You can ride and teach everything with it....setting up a horse to work more off weight and leg then bit. The only problem I foresee is weather or not you know how to properly use one for training. It is not the same as using a bit or sidepull.
 

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I don't think it would make him more sensitive. The horseman's hackamore does not have a bit - so there is not really any way it could make his mouth more or less sensitive.
 

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Have you tried any other bits besides the happy mouth?

IME, horses either like them or really dislike them. On one hand, they're very mild bits. On the other they are very thick and don't promote salivation and can rub a horse's mouth.

Play around with different thicknesses of the mouthpieces, different mouthpieces and even different cheek pieces. Some horses for example like a loose ring, others like the stability of say a baucher.
 

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First thing I would do is have the horses teeth checked and floated if need be. That needs to be done anyway and it may be the cause of your problem. if that doesn't correct the problem I'd try just a simple snaffle. That would be cheaper than buying a good Bosal and hanger and mecate reins. If you do end up going with the hackamore I would not go with a mechanical for training purposes. the rawhide bosals are great. However like was said they are a different animal than a bit or even the sidepulls. A rawhide hackamore is more for building a signal response as opposed to responding to direct pressure. if you use direct pressure constantly a horse will learn it can lean on it and end up ignoring it. Not to mention a decent one isn't really cheap. I've gotten mine from here.

Welcome to Steve Guitron's Custom Rawhide website
 

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Every horse should, IMO, learn to handle a bit. I prefer to use a sweet iron snaffle to start a horse in. They play with it and the thing does get rusty, but it is a nice bit. The object of the side pull and half breed is to get a horse used to the bit without going directly from bitless to using the bit.

Horses need to get used to these things. If a single joint does not work for you, then you can get a double jointed snaffle. I never did this.. but some do with success.
 

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My first thought is of course he doesn't like a bit in his mouth - would you? I bet if you've ever worn a tie you didn't like the feel of it tight around your neck either, but as with a tie, your horse will get used to & desensitised to wearing a bit. Of course, ensure teeth aren't a problem & bit is otherwise as comfortable for him as possible. Then I'd do lots of just letting him wear it - don't even think about attaching reins or such. You can work with him in a halter while he's wearing it though. Distracting him & giving him other stuff to think about while he's wearing it is good. And whether it's on for 10 seconds or 10 minutes, try to catch him while he's not champing at it to take it off - reinforce his 'quiet' mouth wherever possible.

As for can you ground drive in a bosal, absolutely. I believe it's best to start horses off in a halter anyway & will make sure they're yielding in all ways softly & reliably before starting with a bit. With lunging & ground driving, where you've got extra weight & force from extra rein length, I don't tend to work them with a bit at all. If he's not had much ground driving training, I'd start in a soft, light halter or soft bosal.
 

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I think getting his teeth checked is where I would start as well. I do this with every horse I start anyways whether or not they have issues with a bit. I also start my horses in a bosal first, then move up to a sweet iron snaffle bit, and then go from there.

Good luck with your young colt though, I'm sure you will find something that works for both you :)
 
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