The Hackamore

Posted by John Brand on

Relief from the Bit with a Vaquero Influence

The first hackamore was probably a piece of rope placed around the nose or head of a horse not long after domestication. These early devices for controlling horses may have been adapted from equipment used to control camels. Over time, this means of controlling a horse became more sophisticated.

The Persians in 500 b.c. were some of the first ones to use a thick, plaited noseband to help the horse look and move in the same direction. This was called a Hakma. On this Hakma was a third rein added at the nose, which allowed the rider to achieve more power from the horse.  Later, this third rein moved from the top of the noseband to under the chin, where it is still part of the modern bodsl style hackamore with mecate reins.

The hackamore used in the United States came from the Spanish Vaqueros in California. The hackamore was used by the Vaqueros in the beginning for horse training. The Vaqueros quickly learned that this piece of horse tack was a must for every day riding too.

From this, the American Cowboy adopted two different styles of hackamores, the "Buckaroo" tradition, closely resembling that of the original Vaqueros, and the "Texas" tradition which blended some Spanish techniques with methods from the eastern states.

Bosal Hackamore Style

The bosal hackamore uses the Vaqueros tradition of the braided noseband and the mecate rope. This Vaquero style of hackamore is used in western riding and is an indispensable part of the Vaquero way of making a California reined horse.

Sidepull Headstall / Hackamore

The side pull hackamore or headstall, is a modern design inspired by the bosal style. This style has a heavy noseband with side rings that attach the reins on either side of the head. This allows very direct pressure to be applied from side to side. The noseband is made of leather, rawhide, or rope with a leather or synthetic strap under the jaw. It is held on by a leather or synthetic headstall. This style of hackamore is great for beginning riders.

Today the hackamore is popular in natural horsemanship and with horse riders still true to the Vaquero ways. The hackamore is very popular among bitless riders as well, because it does not need a bit. It uses a braided noseband called a bosal. The bosal is a special type of noseband that works on pressure points on the horse's face, nose, and chin. 

Buckaroo also offers many traditional “Old Californio” hand braided rawhide bosals for your hackamore, like the Bosalitos Vaquero Style. These bosalitos are braided in the old Vaquero tradition with a forelock tie.

Buckaroo Leather uses the influence of the Vaquero when creating the many styles of hackamores. Check out the many styles of hackamores and bosals available from Buckaroo Leather, at 

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