Hackamore Style Notes

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There are countless different styles and types of bosals available, and quality will vary as much as design. The bosal should have a balanced feel, some give in the cheeks and a shape that conforms well to a horse’s face. A well-made bosal will be skillfully constructed, symmetrical, and have smooth and uniform braiding. Wide, loose plaiting is less expensive, but it will have a rougher feel against the horse’s face than a smaller and tighter weave. The choice between rawhide and leather will depend on your horse’s sensitivity, as will the degree of stiffness. As a general rule of thumb, a heavier bosal with more “thump” works well for a heavier horse, while lighter horses do well in a bosal with more give. 

The bosal’s contours affect the distribution of pressure, as well. A teardrop shape will make more contact through the cheeks. While that might be suitable for a narrower face, an oval shaped bosal is a better match for a larger horse. 

One thing a hackamore shouldn’t be made of is metal. A bosal with a metal core is heavy, unbalanced and unyielding, a device of intimidation, not communication. In addition, a “mechanical hackamore” isn’t a hackamore at all. It works off leverage and presses into the horse’s nose, chin and sides of his face simultaneously.

Choosing an appropriate good-quality hackamore might set you back a few dollars, but you’ll see the payback in your horse’s performance.

Back to Hands-on Hackamore Training.

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Dale Rudin
Dale Rudin is a CHA certified riding instructor, trainer, clinician, and contributor to Young Rider, Horse Illustrated, and HorseIllustrated.com. She is the creator of Unnatural Horsemanship—a mindful approach to the horse-human relationship, and a founding member of Force-Free Tennessee, an animal advocacy organization that fosters humane low-stress training and handling of all animals.Rudin sees horsemanship as an opportunity for a mutually beneficial collaboration between our two species. To achieve positive results on the ground and under saddle, Rudin makes the horse’s welfare her first priority. She emphasizes the important of comfort, calmness, confidence, balance, and clear compassionate communication. She works with all breeds of horses in every discipline using positive reinforcement, clicker training, and the principles of classical dressage. Dale offers training, lessons, workshops, and clinics on her farm in Santa Fe, Tenn.

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