GEOFF Billington won the recent Hickstead Derby riding Lady Rowallan’s Cassabachus in what looks like an English hackamore, but the nose section looks unusually slim. We find out more.

The English hackamore

H&H asked bitting expert Tricia Nassau-Williams of the Worshipful Company of Loriners to clarify which type of hackamore Geoff used.

“There are three main groups of bitless bridles,” explains Tricia.

”The true hackamore, or the Western system; nose bridles such as the Scawbrig and Bob Cook, and bitless bridles, what we tend to call the English hackamore, or the longer-cheeked German version.

“Geoff rides Cassabachus in an English hackamore, which has an adjustable nosepiece. As pressure is applied directly on to the face, this area is usually padded.”

We asked Geoff why his hackamore looks unusual.

“It’s covered in a thick layer of Vetrap adhesive bandaging tape, to offer extra protection to Cassabachus’s nose,” he says.

Retailer Lucy Nicholas of The Saddlery Shop stocks English and German hackamores, and says: “Our versions have fleece-lined pads stitched to the front leather pad. This is for the same reason as Geoff’s Vetrap, to disperse pressure over the nose area and prevent nerve damage — it’s vital that the horse’s tack is kind and comfortable.”

Tricia Nassau-Williams warns: “Never be lulled into thinking that because this type of bridle has no bit, it cannot hurt the horse.”

Who uses bitless bridles?

MANY show jumpers, including Germany’s Marco Kutscher and British number one Michael Whitaker, have also used hackamores on certain horses. Eventer Ruth Edge also uses a Vetrap-covered hackamore when show jumping Two Thyme. Geoff Billington rides Cassabachus in an English hackamore because the horse is very light in the mouth.

“I tried him in this bridle as a novice horse, and he goes well in it,” he says.

“I find I can hold and support him better over fences.”

Where can I buy one?

THE Saddlery Shop stocks English hackamores like Geoff’s for £32.50 Tel: 01409 220315 www.thesaddleryshop.co.uk

Information

Worshipful Company of Loriners Tel: 01386 751695 www.loriner.co.uk

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (26 July, ’07)