fiador on a horse's hackamore

What is a Fiador and How Does It Work?

A fiador, also known as a Theodore, is a safety device or keeper that is similar to a throatlatch on a bridle but it’s used on hackamores to make certain a hackamore stays securely on a horse’s head says Dennis Moreland of Dennis Moreland Tack. A horse in a hackamore, that has a fiador, can be ridden, led or tied without the risk of the hackamore being scratched or pulled off.

A fiador is made of 1 long piece of doubled over 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 which keeps the ends of the rope away from the horse’s eye. This is the same knot used to fasten rope halters.

diagram of a horse head with a fiador on the hackamore

The hackamore itself is supported by and adjusted with the headstall and not with the fiador. The loop behind the ears that ends at the fiador knot is the part of the fiador that prevents the hackamore from accidentally coming off. When you tie the sheet bend knot you want to tie it tightly enough to keep the headstall on but always leave 2-3 fingers width between the rope and the head so the horse can move and breathe easily. The fiador knot should be positioned in the middle of the jaw so the rope is straight between the fiador knot and the jug knot. For the hackamore to function correctly 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. There shouldn’t be so much length that the heel knot swings up and down with each step, however.

It’s 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. Some attribute the use of the name Theodore, when referring to a fiador, to President Theodore Roosevelt. According to Louis Ortega in his book California Hackamore, this is an Americanized term that was not derived from an individual’s name.

A fiador can be used on almost any hackamore. Fiadors are easy and quick to fasten and will help make sure your hackamores don’t get rubbed or scratched off while you’re riding or leading your horses.

All the Texas Style Hackamores at Dennis Moreland Tack are made with fiadors attached. If you have questions about hackamores or fiadors call 817-312-5305 or write to us at [email protected].

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