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Hackamore

Hackamore

Overview
A hackamore is a type of animal headgear
Bridle
A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit....

 which does not have a bit
Bit (horse)
A bit is a type of horse tack used in equestrian activities, usually made of metal or a synthetic material, and is placed in the mouth of a horse or other equid and assists a rider in communicating with the animal. It rests on the bars of the mouth in an interdental region where there are no teeth...

. Instead, it has a special type of noseband
Noseband
A noseband is the part of a horse's bridle that encircles the nose and jaw of the horse. In English riding, where the noseband is separately attached to its own headstall or crownpiece, held independently of the bit, it is often called a cavesson or caveson noseband...

 that works on pressure points on the face, nose, and chin. It is most commonly associated with certain styles of riding horses.

Hackamores are most often seen in western riding
Western riding
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West...

 and other styles of riding derived from Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 traditions, and are occasionally seen in some English riding
English riding
English riding is a term used to describe a form of horse riding that is seen throughout the world. There are many variations in English riding, but all feature a flat English saddle without the deep seat, high cantle or saddle horn seen on a Western saddle nor the knee pads seen on an Australian...

 disciplines such as show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

 and the stadium phase of eventing
Eventing
Eventing is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding...

.
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Encyclopedia
A hackamore is a type of animal headgear
Bridle
A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit....

 which does not have a bit
Bit (horse)
A bit is a type of horse tack used in equestrian activities, usually made of metal or a synthetic material, and is placed in the mouth of a horse or other equid and assists a rider in communicating with the animal. It rests on the bars of the mouth in an interdental region where there are no teeth...

. Instead, it has a special type of noseband
Noseband
A noseband is the part of a horse's bridle that encircles the nose and jaw of the horse. In English riding, where the noseband is separately attached to its own headstall or crownpiece, held independently of the bit, it is often called a cavesson or caveson noseband...

 that works on pressure points on the face, nose, and chin. It is most commonly associated with certain styles of riding horses.

Hackamores are most often seen in western riding
Western riding
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West...

 and other styles of riding derived from Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 traditions, and are occasionally seen in some English riding
English riding
English riding is a term used to describe a form of horse riding that is seen throughout the world. There are many variations in English riding, but all feature a flat English saddle without the deep seat, high cantle or saddle horn seen on a Western saddle nor the knee pads seen on an Australian...

 disciplines such as show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

 and the stadium phase of eventing
Eventing
Eventing is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding...

. Various hackamore designs are also popular for endurance riding
Endurance riding
Endurance riding is an equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races. It is one of the international competitions recognized by the FEI. There are endurance rides worldwide....

. While usually used to start young horses, they are often seen on mature horses with dental issues that make bit use painful, and on horses with mouth or tongue injuries that would be aggravated by a bit. Some riders also like to use them in the winter to avoid putting a frozen metal bit into a horse's mouth.

There are many styles, but the classic hackamore is a design featuring a bosal
Bosal
A bosal is a type of noseband used on the classic hackamore of the vaquero tradition. It is usually made of braided rawhide and is fitted to the horse in a manner that allows it to rest quietly until the rider uses the reins to give a signal. It acts upon the horse's nose and jaw...

noseband, and sometimes itself called a "bosal" or a "bosal hackamore." It has a long rope rein called a mecate
Mecate (rein)
The mecate is the rein system of the bosal style hackamore used to train young horses. It is a long rope, traditionally of horsehair, approximately 20-25 feet long and up to about 3/4 inch in diameter...

 and may also add a type of stabilizing throatlatch called a fiador
Fiador (tack)
A fiador term of Spanish colonial origin referring to a hackamore component used principally in the Americas. In English-speaking North America, the fiador is known principally as a type of throatlatch used on the bosal-style hackamore. Its purpose is to stabilize a heavy noseband or bosal and...

, which is held to the hackamore by a browband. Other designs with heavy nosebands are also called hackamores, though some bitless designs with lighter weight nosebands that work off tension rather than weight are also called bitless bridle
Bitless bridle
A bitless bridle is a general term describing a wide range of headgear for a horses or other animals that controls the animal without placing a bit in the animal's mouth. Control is maintained by means of some sort of noseband or cavesson. The term hackamore is the most historically accurate word...

s. A noseband with shanks and a curb chain
Curb chain
A curb chain, or curb strap, is a piece of horse tack used on any type of curb bit. It is a flat linked chain or strap that runs under the chin groove of the horse, between the bit shank purchase arms. It has a buckle or hook attachment and often has a "fly link" in the middle to apply a lip strap...

 to add leverage is called a mechanical hackamore
Mechanical hackamore
A mechanical hackamore is a piece of horse tack that is a type of bitless headgear for horses where the reins connect to shanks placed between a noseband and a curb chain. Other names include "hackamore bit", "brockamore," "English hackamore," "nose bridle" and "German hackamore." Certain...

, but is not considered a true hackamore. A simple leather noseband
Noseband
A noseband is the part of a horse's bridle that encircles the nose and jaw of the horse. In English riding, where the noseband is separately attached to its own headstall or crownpiece, held independently of the bit, it is often called a cavesson or caveson noseband...

, or cavesson, is not a hackamore; rather a noseband is generally used in conjunction with a bit and bridle.

Like a bit, a hackamore can be gentle or harsh, depending on the hands of the rider. It is a myth that a bit is cruel and a hackamore is gentler. The horse's face is very soft and sensitive with many nerve endings. Misuse of a hackamore can not only cause pain and swelling on the nose and jaw, but improper fitting combined with rough use can cause damage to the cartilage
Cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

 on the horse's nose, or even break the fine bones that protect the nasal passages.

Origins




The word "hackamore" is derived from the Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 word jáquima, meaning headstall or halter, itself derived from Old Spanish xaquima. The Spanish had obtained the term from the Arabic šakīma, (bit), from šakama (to bridle). From the Americanized pronunciation of jaquima, the spelling "hackamore" entered the written English language by 1850, not long after the Mexican-American War.

The first hackamore was probably a piece of rope placed around the nose or head of a horse not long after domestication
Domestication of the horse
There are a number of hypotheses on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse. Although horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art as early as 30,000 BCE, these were truly wild horses and were probably hunted for meat. How and when horses became domesticated is disputed...

, perhaps as early as 4,000 B.C. Early devices for controlling the horse may have been adapted from equipment used to control camel
Camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

s. Over time, more sophisticated means of using nose pressure were developed. The Persians beginning with the reign of Darius, c. 500 BC, were one of the first cultures known to have used a thick-plaited noseband
Noseband
A noseband is the part of a horse's bridle that encircles the nose and jaw of the horse. In English riding, where the noseband is separately attached to its own headstall or crownpiece, held independently of the bit, it is often called a cavesson or caveson noseband...

 to help the horse look and move in the same direction. This device, called a hakma, also added a third rein at the nose, and was an innovation that allowed a rider to achieve collection
Collection (horse)
Collection is when a horse carries more weight on his hindlegs than his front legs. The horse draws the body in upon itself so that it becomes like a giant spring whose stored energy can be reclaimed for fighting or running from a predator...

 by helping the horse flex at the poll joint. The third rein later moved from the top of the noseband to under the chin, where it is still part of the modern mecate
Mecate (rein)
The mecate is the rein system of the bosal style hackamore used to train young horses. It is a long rope, traditionally of horsehair, approximately 20-25 feet long and up to about 3/4 inch in diameter...

rein
Rein
Reins are items of horse tack, used to direct a horse or other animal used for riding or driving. Reins can be made of leather, nylon, metal, or other materials, and attach to a bridle via either its bit or its noseband.-Use for riding:...

 used on the bosal
Bosal
A bosal is a type of noseband used on the classic hackamore of the vaquero tradition. It is usually made of braided rawhide and is fitted to the horse in a manner that allows it to rest quietly until the rider uses the reins to give a signal. It acts upon the horse's nose and jaw...

-style hackamore. The techniques of horse-training refined by the Persians later influenced the works on horsemanship written by the Greek military commander Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

. This heavy noseband itself came to be known by many names, retaining the name hakma in Persio-Arabic tongues, but becoming the cavesson in French, and the bosal
Bosal
A bosal is a type of noseband used on the classic hackamore of the vaquero tradition. It is usually made of braided rawhide and is fitted to the horse in a manner that allows it to rest quietly until the rider uses the reins to give a signal. It acts upon the horse's nose and jaw...

in Spanish. Another modern descendant is the modern longeing cavesson
Longeing cavesson
A longeing cavesson is a piece of equipment used when longeing a horse. A longeing cavesson consists of a heavy, padded noseband, metal rings to attach the longe line, a throatlatch, and sometimes additional straps such as a jowl strap or a browband for added stability...

 which includes a heavy noseband with a rein at the nose, but it is used for longeing
Longeing
Longeing or lungeing is a technique for training horses, where a horse is asked to work at the end of a long line and respond to commands from a handler on the ground who holds the line. It is also a critical component of the sport of equestrian vaulting...

, not for riding.

The tradition of hackamore use in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 came from the Spanish Californians, who were well respected for their horse-handling abilities. From this tradition, the American cowboy
Cowboy
A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of...

 adopted the hackamore and two schools of use developed: The "buckaroo" or "California" tradition, most closely resembling that of the original vaquero
Vaquero
The vaquero is a horse-mounted livestock herder of a tradition that originated on the Iberian peninsula. Today the vaquero is still a part of the doma vaquera, the Spanish tradition of working riding...

s
, and the "Texas" tradition, which melded some Spanish technique with methods from the eastern states, creating a separate and unique style indigenous to the region. Today, it is the best known of the assorted "bitless bridling" systems of controlling the horse.

The word "hackamore" has been defined many ways, both as a halter and as a type of bitless bridle. However, both terms are primarily descriptive. The traditional jaquima hackamore is made up of a headstall, bosal and mecate tied into looped reins and a lead rope. It is neither precisely a halter nor simply a bridle without a bit. "Anyone who makes the statement that a hackamore is just another type of halter . . . is simply admitting that he knows nothing about this fine piece of equipment."

Types of Hackamores




Today, hackamores can be made of leather, rawhide, rope, cable or various plastics, sometimes in conjunction with metal parts. There are three main types: the bosal
Bosal
A bosal is a type of noseband used on the classic hackamore of the vaquero tradition. It is usually made of braided rawhide and is fitted to the horse in a manner that allows it to rest quietly until the rider uses the reins to give a signal. It acts upon the horse's nose and jaw...

, the sidepull, and other assorted designs, often classed as "bitless bridle
Bitless bridle
A bitless bridle is a general term describing a wide range of headgear for a horses or other animals that controls the animal without placing a bit in the animal's mouth. Control is maintained by means of some sort of noseband or cavesson. The term hackamore is the most historically accurate word...

s."

Bosal



The bosal
Bosal
A bosal is a type of noseband used on the classic hackamore of the vaquero tradition. It is usually made of braided rawhide and is fitted to the horse in a manner that allows it to rest quietly until the rider uses the reins to give a signal. It acts upon the horse's nose and jaw...

(icon, b or ˈ; boˈsal) is the noseband element of the classic jaquima or true hackamore, and is seen primarily in western-style riding
Western riding
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West...

. It is derived from the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 tradition of the vaquero
Vaquero
The vaquero is a horse-mounted livestock herder of a tradition that originated on the Iberian peninsula. Today the vaquero is still a part of the doma vaquera, the Spanish tradition of working riding...

. It consists of a fairly stiff rawhide noseband with rein
Rein
Reins are items of horse tack, used to direct a horse or other animal used for riding or driving. Reins can be made of leather, nylon, metal, or other materials, and attach to a bridle via either its bit or its noseband.-Use for riding:...

s attached to a large knot or "button" (Sp. bosal) at the base from which the design derives its name. The reins are made from a specially tied length of rope called a mecate (icon in this usage; meˈkate), which is tied in a specific manner to both adjust the size of the bosal, and to make a looped rein with an extra length of rope that can be used as a lead rope. In the Texas tradition, where the bosal sets low on the horse's face, and on very inexperienced ("green") horses in both the California (vaquero) and Texas traditions, a specialized rope throatlatch called a fiador
Fiador (tack)
A fiador term of Spanish colonial origin referring to a hackamore component used principally in the Americas. In English-speaking North America, the fiador is known principally as a type of throatlatch used on the bosal-style hackamore. Its purpose is to stabilize a heavy noseband or bosal and...

ˈ is added, running over the poll to the bosal, attached to the hackamore by a browband. The fiador keeps a heavy bosal properly balanced on the horse's head without rubbing or putting excess pressure on the nose. However, it also limits the action of the bosal, and thus is removed once the horse is comfortable under saddle. The terms mecate and fiador have at times been Americanized as "McCarty" or "McCarthy" and "Theodore," but such usage is considered incorrect by hackamore reinsmen of the American West.

The bosal acts on the horse's nose and jaw, and is most commonly used to start young horses under saddle in the Vaquero
Vaquero
The vaquero is a horse-mounted livestock herder of a tradition that originated on the Iberian peninsula. Today the vaquero is still a part of the doma vaquera, the Spanish tradition of working riding...

 tradition of the "California style" cowboy
Cowboy
A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of...

. The bosal is a very sophisticated and versatile style of hackamore. Bosals come in varying diameters and weights, allowing a more skilled horse to "graduate" into ever lighter equipment. Once a young horse is solidly trained with a bosal, a bit is added and the horse is gradually shifted from the hackamore to a bit. While designed to be gentle, Bosals are equipment intended for use by experienced trainers and should not be used by beginners, as they can be harsh in the wrong hands.

Sidepulls


The sidepull is a modern design inspired by the bosal. It is a heavy noseband
Noseband
A noseband is the part of a horse's bridle that encircles the nose and jaw of the horse. In English riding, where the noseband is separately attached to its own headstall or crownpiece, held independently of the bit, it is often called a cavesson or caveson noseband...

 with side rings that attach the reins on either side of the head, allowing very direct pressure to be applied from side to side. The noseband is made of leather, rawhide, or rope with a leather or synthetic strap under the jaw, held on by a leather or synthetic headstall. Sidepulls are primarily used to start young horses or on horses that cannot carry a bit. While severity can be increased by using harder or thinner rope, a sidepull lacks the sophistication of the bosal. The primary advantage of a sidepull over the bosal is that it gives stronger direct lateral commands and is a bit easier for an unsophisticated rider to use. Once a horse understands basic commands, however, the trainer needs to shift to either a bosal or to a snaffle bit to further refine the horse's training. If made of soft materials, a sidepull may be useful for beginners, so that they do not injure their horse's mouth as they learn the rein aids
Riding aids
Riding aids are the cues a rider gives to a horse to communicate what they want the animal to do. Riding aids are broken into the natural aids and the artificial aids.-Natural aids:...

.

English riders
English riding
English riding is a term used to describe a form of horse riding that is seen throughout the world. There are many variations in English riding, but all feature a flat English saddle without the deep seat, high cantle or saddle horn seen on a Western saddle nor the knee pads seen on an Australian...

 sometimes use a jumping cavesson, or jumping hackamore, which is a type of hackamore that consists of a heavy leather nosepiece (usually with a cable or rope inside) with rings on the sides for reins, similar to a sidepull, but more closely fitting and able to transmit more subtle commands. A jumping cavesson is put on a standard English-style headstall and often is indistinguishable at a distance from a standard bridle. It is often used on horses who cannot tolerate a bit or on those who have mouth or tongue injuries.

Mechanical hackamore



A mechanical hackamore, sometimes called a hackamore bit,English hackamore or a brockamore, falls into the hackamore category only because it is a device that works on the nose and not in the mouth. However, it also uses shanks and leverage, thus it is not a true hackamore. Because of its long, metal shanks and a curb chain
Curb chain
A curb chain, or curb strap, is a piece of horse tack used on any type of curb bit. It is a flat linked chain or strap that runs under the chin groove of the horse, between the bit shank purchase arms. It has a buckle or hook attachment and often has a "fly link" in the middle to apply a lip strap...

 that runs under the jaw, it works similarly to a curb bit
Curb bit
A curb bit is a type of bit used for riding horses that uses lever action. It includes the pelham bit and the Weymouth curb along with the traditional "curb bit" used mainly by Western riders....

 and has a similarly high risk of abusive use in the hands of a rough rider. Mechanical hackamores lack the sophistication of bits or a bosal, cannot turn a horse easily, and primarily are used for their considerable stopping power. While the bosal hackamore is legal in many types of western
Western riding
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West...

 competition at horse show
Horse show
A Horse show is a judged exhibition of horses and ponies. Many different horse breeds and equestrian disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days, sometimes longer for major, all-breed events or national and...

s, the mechanical hackamore is not allowed; its use is primarily confined to pleasure riding
Pleasure riding
Pleasure riding is a form of equestrianism that encompasses many forms of recreational riding for personal enjoyment, absent elements of competition. Pleasure riding is called "hacking" in British English, and in parts of the eastern United States and Canada...

, trail riding
Trail riding
Trail riding sometimes called horse or pony trekking is riding outdoors on natural trails and roads as opposed to riding in an enclosed area such as a riding arena. The term may encompass those who travel on horses, on mountain bikes, or on motorcycles and other motorized all-terrain vehicles...

, rodeo
Rodeo
Rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States,...

s and other types of competition.

Other equipment




Like the mechanical hackamore, various modern headstall designs known as "bitless bridles" or "cross-under bitless bridles" are also not a true hackamore, even though they lack a bit. These devices use various assortments of straps around the nose and poll to apply pressure by tightening the headstall in particular areas. They are not as subtle as a bosal, but serve many of the same purposes as a sidepull and are generally milder than most mechanical hackamores.

Some people also ride horses with a halter
Halter
A halter, headcollar, or, less often, headstall, is headgear that is used to lead or tie up livestock and, occasionally, other animals; it fits behind the ears , and around the muzzle. To handle the animal, usually a lead rope or lead shank is attached...

. A closely fitted rope halter with knots on the nose, a bosal-like button at the jaw and two reins attached may act in a manner similar to a sidepull or mild bosal. However, use of an ordinary stable halter as headgear to control a horse is, as a rule, a dangerous practice because a halter has no way of increasing leverage to exert control by the rider if a horse panics. Horses can easily bolt or take off if spooked and there would be no way to stop them.