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With the “Hackamore Classic” just finished in Fort Worth, TX, there is no time like the present to chat about the art of hackamores.
A Little History
The hackamore dates back to when horses were first domesticated right around 4,000 BC. But, the modern day hackamore is adapted from the Vaqueros tradition. Horses were put into the hackamore by Vaqueros at a young age to help ease the pain of teeth shedding, given that equine dentistry was not around.
Today’s usage for the hackamore varies. In the Reined Cow Horse, horses that are 4-5 years of age can be shown in a hackamore set up at all events. Natural horsemanship enthusiasts tend to enjoy the hackamore for traditional training purposes. You can even see eligible horses shown in the hackamore in classes like trail, reining, Western pleasure, and ranch riding.
What makes up a hackamore? There are three parts to every hackamore: the bosal (rawhide portion), the hanger (headstall), and the mecate (reins). Bosals can come in different sizes in order to fit each horse, and they also come in different weights and gauge of thickness. Each hackamore has its own fit and feel just like bits do. Mecate’s come in two types: horse hair and mohair. Both are twisted and spun to create a long rope, which is later tied to the Bosal.
Adam Schwalm, the owner of The Saddle House, is a hackamore enthusiast and lover of all things traditional in the Western world. “Personally I like Bull Black, Jay Abcock, and Barti Frunz as braiders for my Hackamores,” says Schwalm.
“What makes a hackamore a great one is if the hackamore has spring and life to it. A great hackamore is artwork,” says Schwalm.
When it comes to fit of your horse, make sure to adjust the hackamore correctly. “You can adjust it with how many wraps you take with your mecate, most people take two to three wraps,” says Schwalm.
When it comes to picking a mecate for your bosal keep one thing in mind. “Traditionally speaking, you want to have a mecate that matches your hackamore in gauge. If you have a thin hackamore for your horse, you want thin mecate and vise versa.”