Question: “I was curious about holding pressure laterally with a hackamore to get a colt to flex from both sides.  I am wondering if this gets a horse kinda hard on a hackamore or not, I’m not talking about pulling– just holding pressure until the colt gives, then releasing?”


Martin’s Answer: “A horse’s first means of defense is flight, or to move away from pressure, such as a predator or threat. Their next means of defense is fight. In other words, when they don’t see an escape from pressure, they go against it.

So if we need to “flex” or “supple” our horse because they are getting heavy, bracing or going against pressure, my question is “how did they get that way?”


If we can’t realize how we got there, we will likely end up back there.


If you have to keep fixing the same problem, I’d say you need to look harder to find out what’s causing the problem. If you eliminate the cause, you can eliminate the problem.
As Tom Dorrance said, “If we can present it to where the horse sees it as they are going against their own pressure, they won’t put pressure on themselves.”


The snaffle bit functions differently to the horse than the hackamore. With a snaffle bit, one-rein pressure causes a horse to tip their head into the rein to even the pressure on both bars inside their mouth. With a hackamore, steady one-rein pressure can cause a horse to tip their head into the rein to even the pressure on both jawbones. The horse needs to experience relief by tipping his head into the rein. Force may get some positive results with the bit, but it will not work in the same way with a hackamore.


It obviously takes more feel and timing to ride with a hackamore, that’s why more people ride with a snaffle bit. But when a person develops the feel to ride with a hackamore it only improves their ability with a snaffle bit.”