Tack & Gear

Bit Basics: The Loping Hackamore

A loping hackamore is a greqt tool for a horse person to ride in.

This simple piece of equipment is ideal for both starting colts and giving seasoned horses a break from the bit.

If you’re looking to give your horse a break from bits, riding with a loping hackamore is a good option. It’s not as sophisticated in its function as a traditional hackamore, but it is effective in communicating the basic cues to a horse without putting pressure on its tongue or bars.

“Here’s a piece of equipment that we use in a lot of different applications,” says Richard Winters, a horseman based in Weatherford, Texas.

The loping hackamore can be used for green-broke colts (before or after introduction to a snaffle bit) or on your seasoned horse when handing the reins to an inexperienced rider. With reins that attach at the base of the noseband, it communicates clearly with lateral cues and also can encourage vertical flexion.

A loping hackamore is a greqt tool for a horse person to ride in.
Richard Winters rides in a loping hackamore on both green and seasoned horses.

“If you’re going to introduce this to your horse, you want to make sure that you’re doing a lot of things one rein at a time, getting that lateral work in and making sure he understands how to give left and right,” Winters says. “I will sometimes go back to the loping hackamore when I’m going to work a cow. If my horse is a little green on the cow, I can pull my horse around a little bit and stay out of his mouth.”

Winters adds that introducing different gear at times is a good idea because it creates a fresh feel.

“Variety is the spice of life,” he says. “Change things up a little bit. Get the bit out of his mouth for a couple of days, and ride him around in this loping hackamore. It’s got a nice little feel to it. I think you might like it.”

Richard Winters shares his insight on bits in Western Horseman magazine, in a series titled “Bit Basics.” He discusses the loping hackamore in the January 2020 issue.

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