Throatlatch; Hackamore & Fiador Knot
The Fiador is the name of the knot which forms part of the rope throat latch attached to the headstall however it is used as a collective reference for this component. It provides added strength and security and thus prevents the horse from jostling the bosal and
headstall off its head or from pulling it off. If a bosal is used with a Fiador it is important that it is always hangs loose enough to allow the bosal to locate in its free position. The throatlatch fixes around the heel knot of the bosal with the use of a ‘hackamore knot’ the four strands (shank) then extend upwards beneath the cheeks of the horse, this is where the Fiador knot is located.
The ends are then passed over the horses poll through the headstall and then through the loop end and are secured with a bleed (halter) knot. The distance between the hackamore and fiador are dependent on the horse’s head size and should be adjusted accordingly. This distance will influence the movement of the bosal. If the shank is too short it will pull the heel knot up and not allow the free movement and subsequent release, if it is too long it will not provide the stop should the horse pull the bosal off. The hackamore knot should be snug when tied and not over tightened on the heel knot of the bosal this also applies to the mecate once they have been wrapped above the hackamore knot.
The material used to make this can be anything from poly rope, cotton sash cord, or twisted cotton rope with stitched ends ranging in diameter from 4 to 6mm. Although it is up to each individual whether they want a fiador and if so a poly or natural we personally prefer natural fibres. The lay and body (softness) of the cotton rope we use enable a durable, secure Fiador which can be easily cleaned. In addition to this it allows the shanks to be uniformly twisted creating a nice finish, this is done without tensioning the fiador and creating lift in the heel knot.
Does it dampen the signal?
If a horse can feel fly on its rump then the sensitivity within the muzzle, nose and jaw is even more sensitive in terms of the cluster of nerves running through it. If the bosal is shaped and rolls across the bridge of the nose and the fiador tied correctly allowing free movement then communication will not be impaired. In reality it is the level of contact you take through the mecate/bosal and the speed of release, which determines the signal and its clarity combined with your correct body position. The horse will already feel the weight of the bosal and the slightest movement (roll). The key to this is, is to start your conversation with your horse at the lowest level possible, taking the lightest contact, retaining it and releasing within an instant as soon as the horse gives.
In my opinion which I hasten to say is only my opinion it is absolutely paramount on a green horse you have some form of security whether you are hitching them to the rail for the first time, riding them out solo with another horse or in traffic. Without a fiador and a simple hanger you are relying on the horse not reacting to either the hackamore but more importantly the environment you are in. For me security is key when starting young horses both for you and him, or even riding a more advanced horse. I am not saying riding without is wrong but a degree of snobbery can exist due to the fact of the aspiration or claim of the person riding the horse. You see people riding horses which are well broke in a latigo hanger without a fiador which is their choice and leads me to believe they have 100% confidence in the fact their horse will not blink at anything, whether a chasing dog, moving cattle, crack of the whip, a floating bag in the breeze or a gunshot. There are always combinations or circumstances, which can turn what people think, as the most broke horse (hackamore or bridle horse) into a spinning top and for this reason irrespective of whether it appears more low brow a Fiador is a safe choice.