A Hackamore Might Gossip About Your Riding Skills

The hackamore is both loved and hated; loved because it allows us to ride our horses without a bit. Hated because it is the strongest alternative to riding with a bit – and it should defiantly not be underestimated. These words are probably familiar when talking about the hackamore: “It can break the nasal ridge” and “it should only be used by professional riders”. Whether these sentences are completely justified we will let you decide, but it is probably a matter of who is steering the rains. 

Instead, we will emphasize when it is good to ride with a hackamore, and what to be aware of when doing so. Most importantly, a hackamore requires great riding skills and gossips easily about your riding style.  

The time it takes you to stop your horse, says something about whether you use your seat, your weight and your legs correctly. This way, we can conclude that a hackamore somehow gossips about your riding.  

Extract from the article

The lever principle  

A hackamore works through the lever principle. This principle is physically, and is built on a force (I.e., a pull in the rains). The lever principle is reinforced through a long object (i.e. the hackamore or a bit). The longer this object is, the stronger the lever principle will be. 

Part of the everyday life 

This lever principle is present many places in our everyday life. It happens when you are in the garden tilting a huge rock from the ground or when mucking out and put the stable fork down the surface and loosen it. Your own personal force is less than the force at the end of the fork which finaly tilts the rock. 

As with most bits, the pressure from a hackamore is more intense on the nasal ridge of the horse than it feels in the hand of the rider. Photo: Archive

 It is important to remember that the pressure you put on a horse’s nasal ridge is much stronger than what it feels like in the rains. Therefore, it is crucial to be sensitive when riding with a hackamore and all the time be aware of how the rain feels like for the horse. 


Studying the advantages of riding with a hackamore we have discovered three great benefits. 1) The obvious one – the horse is ridden without a bit. 2) You are “forced” to use your seat and legs. 3) Your horse is most likely to be more relaxed when ridden with a hackamore.  

1. Bit-free riding 

The biggest advantage is that the hackamore allows the horse a session without a bit. This can be preferable in times where the horse might have a sore mouth or teeth problems. 

Other bitless alternatives 

SIDEPULL: Is making a pressure on the nasal ridge but without the lever principle. Some sidepulls can be bought with crossed strings under the horse’s jaw or chin which increases the mechanism of a sidepull. 

CORDEO: A rope around the horse’s neck which puts pressure on the horse’s lower neck. This type of controlling the horse, demands more of the rider and should mostly be practiced in an arena especially to begin with.  

SOFT HACKAMORE: A less strong hackamore. Instead of metal parts the rains are tightened to a round peace she the rains can be placed in different holes.  

2. You are forced to ride with your seat and legs 

As with most bitless alternatives, a hackamore is challenging the rider to use legs and seat much more. You cannot “force” the horse to do collected work or pull the break to stop or make a turn. Without a bit you have to use your legs a 100 %, your weight and your seat. Without this, you will have great trouble turning or stopping the horse.  

3. A hackamore makes your horse more relaxed 

Because the hackamore does not affect the horse’s mouth, it can in general make your horse more relaxed. No nerve pathways or mucous membranes are distressed and this works well for some horses. 


And to some disadvantages with the hackamore. 1) The braking distance is long. 2) The horse can easily work too much on the front part. 3) The horse will often seek deeper and feel stronger than riding with an ordinary bit. 

1. The break distance is long and gossips about your riding skills 

When mentioning the breaking distance, we mean the time it takes you to stop your horse completely or shifting to a different tempo. When shifting from canter to trot you have to spend a lot more time stopping the horse compared to riding with a bit – even you use your body correctly. However, the time it takes stopping the horse also says something about how effectful you use your legs and seat. This way you can say, the hackamore gossips about your riding. 

2. The horse will easily end on its front part 

Connected to the breaking distance the fact is that a horse can easily end on its front part when it is ridden with a hackamore. Often, it can be solved by you riding more actively on letting go on the rains and that the horse is placed where it should be. A horse who is usually ridden a lot on the front or too much with the hands and too little with the seat and legs will have a tendency to be on its front part especially when wearing a hackamore. In other words, the hackamore can once again gossip about your riding skills. 

3. The horse can be strong 

Because the horse easily can end on its front part with a hackamore it will most likely feel stronger to ride. Again, riding more with the seat and legs will make the horse lighter in the rains.  


On her blog show jumper Georgia Timmerman writes: 

On hacks I often use a hackamore, especially during winter where we mostly walk. I have also used a hackamore at competitions, but often the horses are stronger I have trouble controlling them. 

– Georgia Timmerman, springrytter. 

The disadvantage as Georgia explains is that the horse is very strong with a hackamore, and we at Magré Tout Media has the same experience. We believe a hackamore is suitable for walk and trot in nature.  

Watch out Georgia rides with a hackamore at a show jumping competition:  

Tip: Do not place the hackamore too low 

The lower part of the nasal ridge of the horse is very sensitive and can easily break if it is exposed to severe pressure. A hackamore should sit a tiny bit further down than an English noseband would, but never as far down as a dropped-noseband bridle.  

The hackamore on this image is placed far too low. Instead it should be as is illustrated on Georgias video on her blog. Photo: Archive 

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