The side-pull or “breaking hackamore” is used completely without a bit. Generally, it is used when a colt is first broke to take a rider. It offers good lateral control without confusing him with a bit or damaging his mouth if hard pulls are necessary. The pressure is on the rope nose piece that can “bite” if used harshly. It mimics the knotted-nose halter but has better rein attachments and sturdier construction.
Nearly all of the horses that I train stay in the side-pull for life. Using a side-pull makes sure that no one can mis-use a bit or use it as a crutch to “get around” good training. Your horse should be able to perform easily and safely through “weekend warrior” type riding in this type of gear. There is some highly precise training that can benefit from a bit in the hands of a skilled trainer, but I still believe that hard work on the ground and a good rider in the saddle can cure almost any ill that most people try to cure with a bit – no matter the breed.
If the horse has been trained to be “light as a feather” on the lateral and vertical flex and the “whoa”, a side-pull is a beautiful piece of equipment. Get that “soft touch” flexion, and even the lightest hands can use a side-pull with real finesse.
It’s a hard sell, and even some of the young trainers I work with feel compelled to think “bit”. Training without a bit is just “the way it has always been done”. It is not necessarily the way it should be done. Many outside trainers who watch one of our horses being trained in a side-pull keep pushing for a bit but are unable to give specifics of why it is necessary – especially in the early stages of training.
Follow Reign’s under-saddle immersion training using only a side-pull.
A great example of a side-pull bitless bridle that incorporates both a rope halter and bitless bridle. Similar to wearing a halter but more convenient, attractive, and precise.
Horse training can be dangerous. Not all methods work on all horses. Instruction presented here is not meant to be prescriptive in nature, and Horse-Pros.com takes no responsibility for the welfare of any animal or person using our methods.
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