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PEDAL without the METAL


Using a hackamore with a sensitive jumper can be a winning solution. By Liz Cornell


I


f you look closely, every now and then you might catch a glimpse of a jumper soaring over obstacles without a bit in his mouth. Don’t worry, you aren’t


having eye trouble—the rider is most likely using a hacka- more in place of a traditional metal bit, and its job is to put pressure on the horse’s nose and poll rather than on his mouth. It’s a bitless option available for show jumpers, although it is frowned upon and not used in the hunter arena. For some jumpers, switching to the hackamore has made a huge difference in their performance over fences. Top pros like John Whitaker from England and Nicole Simpson from California have used the hackamore with great success. West coast eventer Amy Tryon turned to the hackamore with her top horse Pogi in 2001, helping them to a remarkable third place finish at Kentucky Rolex in 2002, with no rails down in stadium. “Sometimes horses need a break from time to time


for mouth sore issues,” says Bernie Traurig, trainer and founder of EquestrianCoach.com. He recommends the hackamore occasionally to his students for horses who are really uncomfortable with the bit but warns it is not


TOP: Kristen Vanderveen on Bull Run’s Divine Fortune in the Open Prix last November in Thermal, California.


always the perfect solution. “I have found it difficult to actually school a horse as successfully in a hackamore as one would in a bit. In the ring you lose some degree of control in turning the horse as well,” he explains. Despite these pitfalls, the hackamore can be the right


solution for certain horses. More recently, two young Grand Prix jumper riders, Uma O’Neill and Chris Surbey, have had much success with their mounts in hackamores. We caught up with these two busy riders and asked how and why this bit alternative has made such a difference.


Uma O’Neill Five years ago, Uma, from Santa Cruz, California, was on the search for a top horse and found Clockwise of Greenhill Z (by Clearway) through Paul Schockemohle in Germany. The gray seven-year-old Zangersheide stallion was competing in the 1.30m division with Belgium’s Philip Gysbretchs. It was a bit of a rough start when she began working with him, she confesses, and it took time for the two to “click,” especially since he was previously ridden by a man. “We first used the hackamore on Clockwise when he


was eight. He is very sensitive and had a small rub from his snaffle that was really bothering him and the vet


Warmbloods Today 17


Charlene Strickland


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