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Old 02-12-2013, 07:31 PM   #1
MissNVaquero
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Default Where does the hackamore horse break?

I was watching Richard Caldwell's DVD today and he said that "The bosal has a tendency to break a horse at the withers - carry transfer through their back. The lower [snaffle] is on the head the more it is going to break at the poll. The higher it is like a bosal up on the nose it is going to carry through the horse's body and break them up on the withers moreso than a snaffle bit will."

I also got a call from Joe Bruce as I was watching the DVD and he said he disagrees - he said the horse breaks at the poll.

Anyone care to discuss?
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:13 PM   #2
DocsMinnieElixer
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I think it really depends on how high or low you sit the hackamore on their nose, and how high or low you keep your hands while you ride. If I want more break in the poll I will keep my hands higher and ask them to sit back and lift up a little. I think the conformation of the horse will contribute a lot to that also. One of my fillies wants to keep her head really low and long. I have a hard time getting her to lift her head up enough that she gets her weight off her front end. A hackamore does seem to make her want to keep her head even lower(too low), while the snaffle seems to encourage her to break more at the poll and just reel her nose in a little. My other filly breaks at the poll in the hackamore, but doesn't show any desire to lower her neck or break at the wither, which may be because I seem to ride with it a bit higher on her nose simply because her face is so small and the hackamore is on the bigger side
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:12 AM   #3
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When I hear folks talk about breaking at the whither I don't believe they are talking about lowering the head and neck. Especially if you watch Richard Caldwell's horses, they don't ride with lowered head. Instead, breaking at the whithers to me means elevation of the withers which tends to bring the head up a little bit and allows for better collection through the back by giving the horse the room to move the hind end up under that front end. It's pretty hard to push the hind end up under the horse if that head and neck are low.

A horse will learn to break at the poll in the hackamore too, but the initial inclincation is to raise the head the softening at the poll comes later in the progression.

With a snaffle you get that break earlier at the poll so if you have a horse started in the snaffle, then moved into the hackamore they already understand giving at the poll and will learn that more quickly resulting in a more finished looking hackamore horse in less time.

At least that's what I have gotten out of putting all the pieces together from the various folks that I've studied.
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:15 PM   #4
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By no means is my horse or I an expert, but I am adding a video of him in the hackamore. I'm pretty sure I do see him break at the withers:

I have been watching it on loop and I think at about :10 I see there is a break at the poll..or a lift?

DocsMinnie - my buckskin is a lot like your filly - he comes out real low and even and he also has a tendency to duck down, but I noticed if I'm lighter on him he won't do that. I don't give him the credit for being lighter than I think he is. But I'd definitely say he breaks more at the withers I think than the poll...I'm going to have to watch him now. But it does make sense from a physical point of view that the lower it is on the horse's face (like a snaffle) the more it would cause the chin to go in or the poll to break - than higher up.

I was talking with someone today and they were saying how in a lot of old photos the hackamore horses, like this one of Ed Connell:

that bosals are higher than you see today.
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drgrimmett View Post
A horse will learn to break at the poll in the hackamore too, but the initial inclincation is to raise the head the softening at the poll comes later in the progression.
I agree. According to my experience so far it's not possible to achieve a break at the poll with a hackamore without the horse's entire body working properly. With a snaffle there is a certain risk that the horse breaks at the poll but simultaneously hollows his back and stays stiff in the hindquarters. But this is not the kind of break at the poll a rider would want. A supple poll is a result of supple hindquarters and vice versa any stiffness in the poll is a result of stiff hindquarters.

What I found is that with a hackamore both the break at the poll and the break at the withers can equally be achieved depending on the position of your hands and the use of your seat.

I have two horses that are very different. One is a downhill built QH mare who is inclined to carry her head low and to have a good deal of weight at the front end. At the beginning, she wasn't very willing to break at the poll. But she uses her back very well. The other horse is an Arabian who usually carries his head high and easily, in fact too easily, breaks at the poll but at the same time hollows his back. In the first place his balance is better than the mare's balance but his back is stiffer.

So, when I ride the mare I need to make sure that she first raises her head, neck and thorax and subsequently breaks at the poll. I carry my hands a bit higher, keep her hindquarters active and do a lot of lateral work in order to soften the hindquarters. As soon as she comes to a certain degree of collection, she gets light and supple at the poll. I never used a snaffle on her.

When I ride the Arabian, I need to make sure that he breaks at the withers and opens his back. I carry my hands close above his withers. Since he carries himself naturally in a horizontal equilibrium, i.e., not collected but not on the front end as well, I keep my weight in a neutral position. Additionally, I need to be very smooth with my seat in order not to disturb the movement in his back. With my seat and the careful use of my hands I have to take care that he finds the appropriate speed. When done correctly, he breaks at the withers.

To sum up, one could say with a hackamore it's easier to get a break at the withers but it takes longer to achieve the break at the poll. With the snaffle it's just the other way around: it's easier to get a break at the poll but more difficult to achieve a break at the withers and to get control over the horses back, particularly the loins, and the hindquarters.
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:38 PM   #6
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Thank you both very much for your insights. I have absolutely nothing to add but to say that I agree with you both. I love delving into subjects like this.
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