Making horse gear, whether a hackamore, bridle or a saddle comfortable for the horse is something it took me a long time to truly understand. The late Dick Deller, judge and horseman, was the guy who first really started to explain to me how critical this concept is as far as the hackamore goes.
People who wrongly turn their noses up regarding the use of a hackamore calling it “an instrument of pain” are simply ignorant of good bosals, how they should be made/adjusted and used.
For the most part, they are not bad folks. The benefits of a correctly made, adjusted and applied hackamore are obvious. Many are just not exposed to well made western gear. Horses will let you know.
Sometimes through ignorance people confuse a true hackamore (AKA the hand braided nose band of the Pacific Slope) with the metal contraption erroneously dubbed the “mechanical hackamore.” It is used for some team roping, equines that have not been trained properly or children’s ponies and donkeys. These gizmos seek to illicit a stop or positive response with force and pain. This is not “horsemanship.”
Widely known on California ranches for over 200 years, the use of the hackamore system preserves and protects the mouth of the future CA bridle horse while in training. It can also be an aid while a horse is healing from traumatic injury.
We tend to focus on what the hackamore does when engaged, but forget it is always there whether we are signaling or not. A poor fit, badly made or handled bosal used during a long ride can quickly become an irritant similar to having a small rock in our shoe. When we have a pebble in our shoe, we stop, take off our shoe and shake it out. If a hackamore is irritating a horse, we don't give them that option. We just expect it and them to work.
Dick Deller, like most good horsemen, encouraged considering the horse first. The benefits of doing so are lasting.
This is a close-up of a poorly made commercial hackamore ready to irritate the horse's face. Held by a headstall this defeats the purpose of a latigo hanger which allows the action of lift and release. The crude strands used to make this nose band just can't serve horse or rider well.
This set up has since been replaced with a traditional California Classics' HH bosal. The results? A much more comfortable horse and a happy owner.