A hackamore is a type of nose band, lacking a bit, that works on pressure points of a horse's nose, chin and face. A rider uses this tool when training and refining a horse's performance by using firm control. Your horse should have a solid foundation under saddle and already be disciplined and obedient before introducing the hackamore.
Adjust and Fit the Hackamore
You will want to adjust the hackamore so that it is near the soft cartilage, placed low on the nose of your horse. The bosal should be short enough to make chin and nose contact while at the same time preventing any sliding up the nose. If you want to put more pressure on the nose than the chin, adjust the bosal to allow a slight lift of the heel knot before the cheeks of the bosal touch your horse's chin. If it is more contact on the chin that you desire, this requires a precise adjustment to the cheeks of the bosal. The adjustment should allow for nose and chin contact simultaneously. The hackamore is not for every rider and pull and release methods are essential during use. If constant pressure is maintained with a hackamore, your horse will tend to ignore the pressure and render the hackamore void.
Apply Pressure using Reins
The hackamore has a bearing rein and a direct rein. Use both reins to teach your horse to respond to pressures. Lateral pressure is applied to the nose by using the direct rein only. Direct pressure on the nose and chin is caused by an even pull on both reins. The third pressure is caused by the bearing rein against the neck. During the beginning stages of training with the hackamore, the three pressures are taught individually. Misuse of the hackamore can cause injury to your horse's mouth, nose, chin and face.
Introduce the hackamore to your horse by providing ground driving first. Using the hackamore, step in front of the horse and teach it to back as a response it feels from the pressure of the bosal. Your horse should have good response to nose pressures and exhibit simple responses as he learns to stop, back and respond laterally.
Reward for Positive Responsiveness
Reward your horse for reacting to the response correctly, by completely releasing pressure once he has responded correctly to your cue. Releasing the pressure is a reward in itself, however, verbal reward and providing a favorite treat for a job well done will encourage your horse to repeat the positive response and behavior. If your horse is at least showing a small response to the cue, release the pressure slightly to communicate that his efforts are welcomed and moving in the right direction.