7 Best Hackamores for Horses (Buying Guide)

When my horse showed difficulty accepting a bit, my friend (an experienced horse trainer) recommended using a hackamore bridle. 

It indeed helped a great deal as I could teach my young horse proper flexion and greatly improved our communication as well.

If you are unsure about which hackamore bridle is right for you, then this guide will help you. 

We are enlisting top 7 hackamore bridles which you can use for trail riding, leisure riding, training, flatwork, and barrel racing.

Hackamore Bridles Top Picks at a Glance

If you see the value in these products and choose to purchase via my referral links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Don’t have time? Here is a quick comparison of our favorites!

Preview
Winner!
Weaver Leather Justin Dunn Bitless Bridle Oiled Canyon Rose, 1" Average
Best Training Hackamore
Mustang Nylon Breaking Hackamore
Best Barrel Racing Hackamore
Tough-1 Beetle Hackamore
Best S-Hackamore
Aime Imports Westen at Rope Nose Little S Hackamore
Best Loping Hackamore
Professionals Choice Loping Hackamore
Top Benefit
Made with sturdy, durable, weather-resistant, hand-rubbed, and well-oiled supple leather
Excellent to control horses that refuse bits 
Allows you to put less pressure on the hackamore and yet control your horse.
Fit most mustangs, draft, and quarter horses well
Comfortable and stylish
Winner!
Preview
Weaver Leather Justin Dunn Bitless Bridle Oiled Canyon Rose, 1" Average
Top Benefit
Made with sturdy, durable, weather-resistant, hand-rubbed, and well-oiled supple leather
Check Latest Price
Best Training Hackamore
Preview
Mustang Nylon Breaking Hackamore
Top Benefit
Excellent to control horses that refuse bits 
Check Latest Price
Best Barrel Racing Hackamore
Preview
Tough-1 Beetle Hackamore
Top Benefit
Allows you to put less pressure on the hackamore and yet control your horse.
Check Latest Price
Best S-Hackamore
Preview
Aime Imports Westen at Rope Nose Little S Hackamore
Top Benefit
Fit most mustangs, draft, and quarter horses well
Check Latest Price
Best Loping Hackamore
Preview
Professionals Choice Loping Hackamore
Top Benefit
Comfortable and stylish
Check Latest Price

7 Best Trail Riding Hackamore (Reviews)

#1. Winner: Justin Dunn Bitless Bridle by Weaver Leather™

Justin Dunn Bitless Bridle

I chose Justin Dunn hackamore as it came highly recommended by my equestrian friends. It was indeed a great choice and the best bitless bridle because my horse’s responses were much better and faster after switching to this hackamore. 

Justin Dunn hackamore is made with very soft leather. It is also well-oiled and that makes it very comfortable for the horses – no more rubbing or chafing as experienced with rope hackamore or side pulls.

Also, it is made by the Weaver Leather™ –  a popular American brand well-known for its horse tack. So, I am confident that this type of bridle will last trail riders for ages. [1]

Features and attributes

  • Made with sturdy, durable, weather-resistant, hand-rubbed, and well-oiled supple leather
  • Strategically placed knots give better responses
  • Three color options
  • Sizes available: horse, draft, and 1-inch average.

Here are some pros and cons of bitless bridles:

BenefitsDrawbacks
Has spread-out leather straps that prevent the bridle from swimming around the horse’s faceOne of the main drawbacks reported by some users was that the hackamore’s buckles sit very close to the horse’s eyes.*
Uses high-quality metal buckles that look like sterling silverSome feel it’s too thick.
Stylish and functional
Fits well with enough room to accommodate different head sizes
Ideal for training or green horses as well as those with mouth injuries
Ideal for endurance and NATRC participants as it allows horses to graze and drink without having a bit in the mouth.
*You can overcome this by measuring your horse properly and choosing the correct size: horse, 1-inch, or draft. The 1-inch average hackamore (half size) can easily fit ponies between 12 hh and larger horses 14 hh and over. Some adjustments can also help.

Tips

  • Punch some extra holes in the chin strap if needed.

How it compares

Justin Dunn true hackamore is a best-seller for a reason – high-quality materials, durability, and of course you get value for money.

No wonder most serious equestrians are willing to pay the higher price for it. It is totally worth it.

Weaver Leather Justin Dunn Bitless Bridle Oiled Canyon Rose, 1" Average
  • Durable, weather-resistant harness leather
  • Dipped in oil and dressed with butter
  • Leather is hand Rubbed for a great feel
  • Two strategically placed Knots encourage horse to give to pressure and seek release

#2. Best Training Hackamore: Mustang Store Nylon Hackamore

Mustang Nylon Breaking Hackamore

Whether you are looking for hackamores for everyday riding or for loping or training horses before shows – you will love this nylon hackamore from Mustang Store. It is affordable, durable, and gets results.

Here are its main features:

Features and attributes

  • Rawhide braided noseband 7/16th inch
  • Flat, braided reins 3/4th inch nylon headstall
  • Cheekpieces are made of nylon too
  • Comes with split reins- left and right sides are 83-inches long
BenefitsDrawbacks
Excellent to control horses that refuse bits  Nylon is never as soft as leather. So, some stiffness is natural.
Ideal for horses with a mouth injuryMight not last as long as desired.
Fits most horses very well
Soft and comfortable
Value for money

Expert tip

Use some leather conditioner to do away with some of the stiffness.

How it compares

For under $50, this is a great everyday hackamore. The nylon material tends to be a bit stiff and abrasive. It also does not look too elegant – especially if you’re used to leather hackamores.

However, if looks are not important, then this can be a good training/roping hackamore to get your horse in control without using a harsh bit.

#3. Best Budget Buy: CHALLENGER Horse Adjustable Black Leather Padded Training Bitless Hackamore

CHALLENGER Horse Adjustable Black Leather Padded Training Bitless Hackamore 35RT01BK

Challenger horse products are very well known and they are affordable as well. If you want western hackamores under $50, then this is the brand to opt for.

Challenger padded western hackamores are adjustable, comfortable, and had a padded noseband to prevent rubbing your horse’s skin. Here are its features:

Features and attributes

  • Features black-color padded noseband with the following dimensions: nose 6 and 3/4th inches, cheeks 7 and 3/4th inches.
  • Durable nickel-plated hardware
  • Fits most horses
BenefitsDrawbacks
AffordableNeeds more size options in these western hackamores.
Adjustable
Excellent quality
The padded noseband isn’t too soft – ( which tends to cause horses to have their own way sometimes!)

Tips

You can replace the shanks with other bitless alternatives.

How it compares

Highly affordable, well-made western hackamores from a top brand. Need we say more?

CHALLENGER Horse Adjustable Black Leather Padded Training Bitless Hackamore 35RT01BK
  • Nose: 6 3/4" x 1 7/8" Cheeks: 7 3/4"
  • Black
  • Challenger harness leather hackamore features a padded noseband for comfort.
  • Fully adjustable curb, with nickle plated hardware.
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Check other fancy Western horse bridles!

#4. Best Barrel Racing Hackamore: Tough-1 Beetle Hackamore

Tough-1 Beetle Hackamore

My friend uses this stainless steel hackamore from Tough-1. She does barrel racing, jumping, endurance riding, and regular flat-work, and it worked for all these disciplines.

In her words: ‘my mare was a different horse with the Tough-1 Beetle hackamore’. It even works great as an emergency brake to put over the snaffle bridle.

Features and attributes

  • Comes with a rope nose with 6” cheeks
  • Made with high-quality, rust-resistant stainless steel 
BenefitsDrawbacks
Has helped prevent head-tossing in many horsesIn the case of a small percentage of horses, the hackamore’s wire dug into the skin and caused sores.
Allows you to put less pressure on the hackamore and yet control your horse.
Comfort and clear signals for horses that hate bits
Ideal for many disciplines
Perfect for stopping and turning

Expert tips

For sensitive horses, use a vet wrap to soften the pressure caused by the steel wire into the fur.

How it compares

Tough-1 is a reliable brand when it comes to horse tack and related products. This is a great hackamore for different riding style. It usually does not rub, but if it does, you can use some wrap or fleece.

The price is very affordable.

Sale
Tough-1 Beetle Hackamore
  • S Hack with Rope Nose
  • Stainless steel
  • Curb chain not included

#5. Best S-Hackamore – Aime Imports Western at Rope Nose S-Hackamore

Aime Imports Westen at Rope Nose Little S Hackamore

Aime Imports Western S hackamore is great for beginner riders who want to test out a hackamore before settling down on one or if they’re unsure as to how their horse will react.

Features and attributes

  • Rubber stoppers on rawhide- rigid waxed nylon rope
  • Antique finish
  • 6-inch cheeks
  • Easily fit horses within the 800-1100 lb. range.
  • One side of the curb chain is adjustable
BenefitsDrawbacks
Well-made using quality materials The stiff rope needs vet wrap or bandage material
Fit most mustangs, draft, and quarter horses well.
Affordable
Superior lateral control and release without the harshness of bits

How it compares

Aime Imports S-hackamore is a great buy for an affordable price. It is not too aggressive for stopping but if you and your horse hate harsh bits, then this is a great choice.

It is comfortable and easily adjustable too. It fit most horses well. The stiff nose band requires a wrap to soften it a bit.

Expert tips

  • Find the cartilage on your horse before installing it – this gives a better fit.
  • Double the curb chain if it is a bit too long.

#6. Best Loping Hackamore: Professionals Choice Loping Hackamore

Professional S Choice Loping Hackamore Horse

Professional Choice loping hackamore is ideal for smaller horses. It is available in soft brown color and is comfortable and stylish as well.

Here are its features:

Features and attributes

  • 4-plait noseband – attractive and comfortable
  • Features a hand-laced Hermann Oak leather headstall and nylon fiador
  • Also comes with 17-ft split reins 
BenefitsDrawbacks
High-quality materialsRuns small. However, it is ideal for most petite 14 hh Quarter horses.
Excellent craftsmanship from a reputed horse tack brand
Soft and comfortable
Stylish

Expert tips

  • You might have to knock off the sharp edges where the reins tie together.

How it compares

Professional Choice equestrian products and reliable, well-made, and durable. This hackamore is perfect for smaller horses and ideal for loping and everyday use.

The price is more-or-less comparable to the other entries here. It is a complete value for money so you can buy it with confidence. On the downside, there are some sizing issues reported about it.

#7. Best Mechanical Hackamore: Zilco Bitless Noseband Mechanical Hackamore

Zilco Mechanical Hackamore

A friend of mine is a competitive rider and he raves about Zilco’s mechanical hackamore. It is made with high-quality materials that resist fading, cracking, and fading.

Here are some of its main features

Features and attributes

  • Made with Zilco’s patented high-quality materials
  • Features double adjustments for the chin and noseband – this gives a precise fit.
  • Angled stainless steel shanks come with 7-inch length
BenefitsDrawbacks
The construction and attachments ensure high level lateral control High price but totally worth it
Precise fit
Attachments suit a variety of preferences and disciplines

Expert tips

  • Not suitable for large horses with big muzzles  more for average, small, or quarter horses.

How it compares

Zilco mechanical hackamore is the choice of professional riders. At the same time leisure or pleasure, riders can also use it. Its durable materials ensure that it remains free from cracks and damage.

This justifies its higher-than-average price. The hackamore’s construction and attachments help riders have greater control over their mount. At the same time, it is gentle enough to use on older horses as well.

Zilco Mechanical Hackamore
  • Increasingly popular among both competitive and leisure riders,
  • Zilco Bitless Attachments offer a variety of styles to suit most preferences.
  • All Zilco nosebands are constructed from the same high quality materials - padded and will not stretch, change color, crack or fade.
  • Will work with most bridles.

What to Look for When Buying Best Hackamore for Horses?

Here are some factors to consider when selecting a hackamore:

#1. Types of Hackamores

There are different types of hackamores for horses: sidepulls, mechanical, jumping, bosal, etc. They all offer different pressure and subsequently, their control is also different. 

When selecting bitless headgear, take into account your horse’s level of training, your riding style or purpose, and also your own expertise level. 

Remember: even the softest hackamore in the wrong hands of an inexperienced rider can be painful to your horse.

Some horses also never accept the bit but going too soft on such horses can sometimes lead to behavior issues and training difficulties. So, select a hackamore that is soft but not too soft for such a horse.

Some hackamores are especially may for braking and stopping. Others are useful in events that require you to steer. So research the type well and choose accordingly. Here are some more tips:

  • Jumping hackamores – achieve lateral control using lead reins.
  • Western sidepulls – these offer stroger longitudinal control
  • English hackamores – slightly more nose pressure and direct pressure than western ones
  • Bosal hackamore – works on both sides of the horse’s face and primarily on the lower jaw.
  • Mechanical hackamore – perfect for stopping.

READ MORE: Different Types of Bitless Bridles

#2. Size and Fit

lady riding a horse wearing a hackamore (hackamore vs bosal guide)

Always select a hackamore that fits your horse perfectly. You certainly do not want its buckles or other parts hurting your horse’s eyes or rubbing into its skin. 

As a rule of thumb, the hackamore should fit in such a manner that its nose button sits halfway between the eyes and the horse’s muzzle.

Always feel your horse and note where the bone ends in the cartilage of the muzzle. The hackamore of good fit will sit in this area – not too low or high.

Another point to note is that, while at rest when the reins are slack, the heel-knot should not touch the horse’s chin.

#3. Materials

Look for materials like braided leather, biothane [2], etc. These are less severe and won’t cause abrasion or sores on the horse’s muzzle.

FAQs

Why would you use a hackamore?

a horse with best hackamore fitted on it

Hackamores are bitless, less severe bridles that do not exert direct pressure on the horse. When used properly, they can help you improve communication with your horse.

The right hackamore can also help you while training a stubborn horse that does not like bits or has a sensitive mouth. They are the best tools for progressive training too.

What is the difference between bosal and hackamore?

Both bosal and hackamores are more or less the same things. A bosal is called a hackamore when it is connected to headstall and reins. 

Final Recommendations

The best hackamore bridles are perfect for training a green horse, a young colt, or even an older horse with a sensitive mouth. Being bitless options, they are usually less severe and often aids in better control as well.

We recommend the Justin Dunn hackamore which is made with soft, well-oiled, and durable high-quality leather. It also has strategically placed knots that give better responses.

Don’t forget to check out our other recommendations as well.

Weaver Leather Justin Dunn Bitless Bridle Oiled Canyon Rose, 1" Average
  • Durable, weather-resistant harness leather
  • Dipped in oil and dressed with butter
  • Leather is hand Rubbed for a great feel
  • Two strategically placed Knots encourage horse to give to pressure and seek release

References

  • 1. Weaver Leather. Weaver Leather. Published 2021. Accessed November 30, 2021. https://www.weaverleather.com/
  • 2. BioThane Coated Webbing. BioThane Coated Webbing. BioThane Coated Webbing: Urethane & Vinyl Coated Polyester Webbing. Published 2015. Accessed November 30, 2021. https://www.biothane.us/
horse wearing a hackamore bridle

What hackamore bridles do you like most for your horse? Let us know in the comments below!

Andreea J.
Andreea J.

Andreea is a very passionate content creator and her purpose is to provide you with the most interesting articles, while constantly discovering new facts. She’s been freelance writing for the past five years and has created numerous articles and educational materials while managing her own mom blog.
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