The mother of invention, inspiration, often appears when least expected and as an odd apparition. With a little luck, however, that inspiration, no matter how mystifying, pays big dividends.
For one local horseman, it was an injured leg and his inability to ride that gave him time in his barn to watch how his horses reacted to flies, which in turn led to his moment of inspiration.
“You see how truly sensitive a horse is,” said Jay DeLange, inventor of a new type of hackamore (a type of animal headgear which does not have a bit). “If a fly crawls along a horse’s jaw, on the left side of his head, the horse will turn his head to the right.”
It was that observation that caused DeLange to rethink how horses are guided and led. “The concept is that you tickle the horse, just like a fly would,” DeLange said. “The lighter you touch them, the better they respond.”
“A horse is not born with steel in its mouth,” he added. “I came up with this to get rid of the bit.”
The hackamore concept (the term derived from the Spanish “jaquima,” which in turn derives from the Arabic “Sakima”) dates back almost as far as the domestication of the horse. In fact, DeLange credited the old-time vaqueros and Native Americans with preferring the hackamore over a bridle and bit. “They were great horsemen,” he said, “but the concept there was on applying pressure. My goal is to make it easy on the horse. I call it ‘The Comfort Hack.’”
DeLange reports that local riders have expressed enthusiasm for his invention and several horse owners have elected to use the comfort hack. More than that, DeLange said that Craig Cameron from RFDTV (Rural Free Delivery TV) has not only endorsed the hack but has expressed interest in helping to market DeLange’s invention. In fact, riders interested in purchasing the comfort hack can make inquiries through a number provided through Cameron’s site by dialing (800) 274-0077.
DeLange stated that local riders requesting more information on the comfort hack can call him directly at 264-4616.
DeLange certainly sees a future for his inspiration and says it even works for mules. “It even works for buffalo,” he said. “I sold one to some gal who, I guess, rides a buffalo.”
Although DeLange said the hack fits with current reins and headstalls, “If you have a big mule,” he said, “with a huge head, I’ll have to custom make one. But it will fit the average horse.”
Furthermore, DeLange feels that the hack holds aesthetic value as well. “People who have a $10,000 saddle and a $5,000 breastplate don’t want a rope halter. They want something that looks nice.
DeLange said he hopes to fill enough orders so he can afford to travel and further spread the word about the comfort hack.
However, it is the treatment of the horse that concerns DeLange the most.
“The horse responds better to the gentle touch,” he said. “With the comfort hack, you cannot hurt the horse’s mouth.”