What Is a Fiador?

fiadorA fiador is a safety device or keeper that is similar to a throatlatch on a bridle but is used in conjunction with a hackamore to make certain the hackamore stays securely on the horse’s head. A horse in a hackamore with fiador can always be led or tied without risk of the hackamore being scratched or pulled off.

A fiador is made of 1 long piece of doubled over 1/4 inch rope that is tied with a jug knot at the hackamore’s heel knot. Once the jug knot is tied 4 strands of the rope are taken up to the gullet (under the jaws) where a fiador knot is tied. After the fiador knot is tied 2 strands of rope are run up and over the off side of the head, through the browband (the browband will keep the fiador from sliding back), behind the ears, through the browband and down to meet the strands of rope on the near side. The fiador is secured with a sheet bend knot so the ends will not stick in the horse’s eye. This is the same knot used in fastening rope halters.

The hackamore itself is supported by and adjusted with the headstall or hanger and not with the fiador. The portion of the fiador that prevents the hackamore from accidentally coming off is the loop behind the ears that ends at the fiador knot. This portion should be tied quite tightly but with enough slack to get 2-3 fingers between the rope and the head. The rope between the fiador knot and the jug knot should drop straight down. There must be enough length between the jug and fiador knots for the heel knot of the bosal or noseband to be taken up and dropped freely when the reins or mecate are manipulated but not so much length that the heel knot swings up and down with each step.

It is thought that the use of fiadors came to North America with the arrival of the Spanish Dons and their horses. Hackamores with fiadors were used extensively in the 18th and 19th centuries by vaqueros. Fiadors are also known as Theodores. Some think this change in name was attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt but according to Louis Ortega in his book California Hackamore this is an Americanized term that was not derived from an individual’s name.

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