The short shank Jim Warner hackamore is all that National Finals Rodeo qualifier Leslie Smalygo uses on Justaheartbeattofame, a naturally bendy horse that performs best when he can go on autopilot during a run.

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Using a Hack

“[I use this on] a horse that pretty much knows the deal, that knows the pattern and is solid on it. I exercise him in it, I ride him at home in it, I work cattle in it — that’s all I put on him. I’ve had him in the Jim Warner for about seven years. I have more control with that than I do a bit. I don’t tune him in a bit at all. In a run, [it allows me to] stay out of his way, for him to go on autopilot, and we don’t knock as many barrels over. All my horses are pretty broke, so I can trust it on anything I ride. With ‘Gus,’ since he is so rate-y, it frees him up a little more.”

Shank: Short

“I use the short shank. I can lift his shoulder, move him off it, and it makes him real soft.”

close-up of horse running home from third barrel
The short shank Jim Warner hackamore is Leslie Smalygo’s choice for Justaheartbeattofame (“Gus”), a naturally bendy horse who goes on autopilot during a run. She adjusts her curb chain tight and hangs the bridle to sit on the mid to lower part of his nose. Photo by Click Thompson

Noseband: Stiff Rope

“I have a tighter chin strap, so it’s not in the middle of his nose but it’s in the mid-lower area. For me, it’s pretty much the same as riding them in a bit. I don’t make a lot of adjustments in a run — I ride them to their points, say whoa and wrap the barrel, and we go on to the next one. He wraps his barrels and is naturally very bendy — if you ask him to go into a ball, he will. I have a 3-year-old exactly like him. I have 11 rides on him, I put him on barrels and we are already picking up speed. He’s too bendy, so I have a feeling he will be a hackamore horse too.”

Curb: Tighter Chain

“I use a chain, and I like it more tightly adjusted. If I had it too loose, I would never be able to stop him on the long alleys. I try to hold him as long as I can up the alley, but it usually doesn’t work.”


Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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