How to Put a Mechanical Hackamore on a Horse


The term "hackamore" is often used generically to refer to any bridle that does not use a bit in the horse's mouth. A mechanical hackamore is a leverage bridle that uses long metal shanks attached to a nose piece. The metal shanks apply pressure to the horse's nose and chin and can be very severe if used improperly. While a mechanical hackamore can be a useful tool for riders with soft hands and a great option for horses who have had injuries or defects to the mouth, it is critically important that it be properly adjusted to prevent injuries.

Things You'll Need

  • Mechanical hackamore
  • Headstall
  • Chicago screws or leather laces
  • Leather hole punch
  • Curb strap or curb chain
  • Bar or chain
  • Attach the mechanical hackamore to the headstall using either the Chicago screws or leather laces. Adjust the headstall so that it will be big enough to place on the horse's head.

  • Attach the curb strap or curb chain to the mechanical hackamore using the attached buckles. Leave the strap as long as possible.

  • Use your right hand to gather the headstall. Slide it over the horse's nose, reaching under the horse's throat with the right arm. Use the left hand to guide the mechanical hackamore onto the nose. Pull the headstall over the horse's ears, taking care not to pinch the horse.

  • Check the placement of the nose band on the horse's nose. Mechanical hackamores must rest on the facial bones and not on the sensitive nasal cartilage to work properly and to avoid injury. If necessary, use the leather hole punch to make adjustments to the length of the headstall so that the nose band rests just at the end of the facial bones.

  • Adjust the length of the curb strap or chain. The curb strap should not be tight as it works in conjunction with the nose band and can create a vise-like grip on the horse's face. The strap should have a small amount of slack — enough to place at least two fingers between the chin and the strap — to ensure proper fit.

  • Use the bar or chain to attach the bottom of the shanks together. Adjust the length to equal the width of the horse's mouth. This stabilizes the hackamore for consistency in the pressure applied to the nose and chin and prevents potential injuries from the shanks jamming into the horse's cheeks.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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