About Hackamores & Side Pulls

Thinkin’ About Goin’ Bitless? I do!

The Hackamore

The hackamore has a different pressure method than a bit. It works by putting pressure on the horse’s nose, chin, cheek, and poll.  The nosepiece is responsible for the greatest amount of pressure. While the type of nosepiece it has decides how harsh the pressure will be. There are a variety of materials used for nosepieces, flat leather, rawhide, or a rubber covered chain are the most common. A chin strap provides the leverage needed for whichever nosepiece you choose to be effective.

The regular hackamore has short shanks that are directly attached to the nosepiece. But there is also something called a mechanical hackamore, which has longer shanks. It’s attached differently to the nosepiece, and is jointed, providing a higher degree of correction. Remember, A real hackamore won’t have any bars in the mouth. Don’t be confused by the hackamore/snaffle rigs.


A side pull is merely a bitless bridle.  The reins are attached to rings on both sides of the horse’s muzzle.  They are made from different materials, but mostly leather, same as a bridle. As with the hackamore, the noseband plays a major role in the side pull’s usefulness.  The most common are layers of flat leather or stiff lariat, one or two lengths of rope across the nose. There may be knots on both sides of the nosepiece for extra pressure when the reins are pulled. Just like the hackamore, a wider nosepiece will provide softer pressure. Thin or narrow nosepieces will be more severe.

The Proper Fit

The nosepiece should sit about four inches above the horse’s mouth. However, if you need a little more whoa, simply  lower it. The higher it sits, the softer the pressure, the lower it sits, the harsher the effect. The chin strap plays an important role too, make sure it’s snug – never dangling.



About tbnranch

amy elizabeth, writer, author, antique dealer. Lives in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert on a small hobby farm.
This entry was posted in Horse Informative and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.