Q: What is a mechanical hackamore?
A: A mechanical hackamore is titled misleadingly, as it is not really a hackamore at all, but a bitless bridle that uses leverage points on the horse’s nose, jaw and poll.
When pulled by the reins, shanks put pressure on the noseband, bringing the curb chain up against the chin and jaw, and tipping the cheek pieces forward to put pressure on the poll. Some riders use these bridles for horses who have developed ‘hard’ mouths through poor training, or for horses with injured mouths.
The principles surrounding the mechanical hackamore are pretty much the same as with other tack and bits:
- Longer shanks give more leverage on the chin groove and the poll.
- Thinner nosebands are more severe than broader ones.
Using a mechanical hackamore improperly can permanently damage the cartilage of the nose, so do not consider it a ‘gentle option’, unless you are experienced in using it and have good, soft hands.