Question: Ex-Racehorse Horse Likes Hackamore, Hates Bit
I have an OTTB that I just
brought home a few weeks ago. He was retired because he no longer
wanted to race. Therefore when the previous owner decided he wasn't
going to be competitive and I was offered to take him before he
went to an auction.
I'm worried his mouth
was ruined. I want him to be comfortable & don't mind riding
in a hack. I just have a lot of family members giving me the back
end that I have no control with a hackamore. No one else will ride
him with it. Everyone thinks they can stick harsh bits in his mouth
and just shank him around to control him, making everything worse.
Any imput you have time to give would be great.
There are a number of reasons he could be reacting badly to the bit. As a racehorse he was run in a bit, but never trained how to ride in one. All racehorses do is run straight and slow down; they aren't trained to be ridden like a "normal" trail horse, with all the turning, backing, etc. He could simply have never been trained in a bit and thus not know how to handle it, so he fights it. He could associate it with racing and get nervous, or he could have had bad experiences in the past.
I had an ex-racehorse that behaved similar to yours; She hated bits and would shake her head, but she was fine in a hackamore. I barrel raced her (as well as trail riding) in a hackamore and she was happy.
mouth can mean different things. A horse that is yanked around
can become "deadened" to the simulation and learn to
ignore or fight it, developing bad habits when riding in the bit
that can take a long time to correct; or if the rider is harsh
enough, can actually experience nerve damage or scarring in the
mouth which can be permanent.
If you've determined he has no pain from the bit or injuries, and want him to learn to use a bit, you could start off slowly just as if you were training a young horse and reintroduce him to a snaffle or other mild bit a little at a time. However if both you and the horse prefer a hackamore there is nothing wrong with riding in that.
If your horse seems to work happily in a hackamore, then that is what I'd ride in. Keep in mind that hackamores are not necessarily any less harsh than bits, they just use pressure on the nose instead of in the mouth. Some horses prefer that, but others hate it.
As far as your family,
if he is your horse and they believe in yanking him around in
a bit, I wouldn't allow them to handle your horse. Anyone who
believes in yanking a horse around to control it shouldn't be
allowed near a horse.
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