Should you use particular tack items with your horse or not? Get expert input on seven frequently provided pieces of equine tools.

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Take a stroll through any tack shop, perusage the pages of a horse-equipment directory, or shop any kind of online equestrian supply firm, and also you’re most likely to flourish wide-eyed looking at all the gadgets that host out the promise of enhancing your horsemanship and also your horse’s performance.

Even if you’re not marketed on the product hype, there’s constantly your riding buddy that swears by some item that addressed all his or her horse’s behavioral problems. “You really gotta shot it!”

But is that item a good piece of training gear…or a gimmick that might develop even more troubles than it solves?

To assist you sort via some widespread but often misconstrued training devices, we asked members of Team Horse&Rider and also other extremely accomplished horsemen and horsewomales to sell their views on seven pieces of devices. Here’s what they offered as insight and also advice.

Draw Reins

Tack item: Draw reins. Alias: running reins.


Draw reins: consist of a lengthy collection of reins that run from the rider’s hands, through the rings of a snaffle, and affix to the rings of a cinch. They exert a wheel effect.

Charles Brooks

The expert: Bob Avila, all-roughly horseman and renowned reining and working cow horse trainer and member of Team H&R.

Description: This equipment consists of a long set of reins of leather or wrange cord, or a combination. The reins run dvery own from the rider’s hands with the rings of a snaffle little bit, then attach to the cinch in between the horse’s front legs or to the rings on both sides of a cinch. They deserve to be offered via or in location of normal reins.

How they work: Like a wheel mechanism, draw reins include substantial leverage to the rider’s hands. If the rider’s hands tighten, the reins exert press downward, towards the ground, and also inward, toward the horse’s chest. Likewise, if the steed raises his head, press pertains to play on the mouth by the reins afaddressed to the saddle’s girth or cinch rings.

User comments: “I hardly ever use draw reins, but the one time I execute is as soon as teaching some steeds to change leads,” states Avila. Specifically, Avila will certainly use draw reins for a equine that wants to adjust leads by elevating in front instead of driving from behind. He additionally sees some utility in utilizing draw reins to “capture” the horse’s head (organize it in a preferred position), compush its body, and get its components to occupational together, as once teaching a sidepass.

However, the trainer warns around relying on draw reins for sustained training. “I might usage them for a while, but never before more than 30 days.”

Gimmick concerns: “Ninety percent of the moment, human being usage attract reins as a crutch,” Avila asserts. “They think draw reins will teach a steed to organize his head down on his very own if they simply use them lengthy sufficient. I haven’t seen anyone that prospered at that.”

Steer clear if: You don’t have someone that can teach you exactly how to usage them. Like a lot of leverage devices, draw reins include substantial force, yet take ameans feel and also feedback. The considerable pressure attract reins exert deserve to injure a horse’s mouth, sore his neck, and serve to make him hefty on his forehand also. “Draw reins aren’t an excellent tool for anyone not skilled in their use and also objective,” Avila concludes.


Running martingale: attaches to cinch, runs between horse’s front legs, and forks into 2 straps. The reins run through the rings and to the rider’s hands. Note: For security, usage rein stops.

Charles Brooks

The expert: Julie Goodnight, a famous herbal horsemanship clinician, Western trainer, Team H&R member, and also organize of the RFD-TV show HorseMaster With Julie Goodnight.

Description: The running martingale attaches to the cinch in between the horse’s front legs and then forks into two straps via a ring on each end, via which the reins are run. It might or might not have a strap that goes about the neck to host it up.

How it works: Running martingales are commonly supplied in Western and also English disciplines. Their function is to proccasion the horse’s head from gaining as well high. Once the horse’s mouth is above the withers, a rider no much longer has actually regulate with the reins, so the running martingale is a fail-safe tool to prevent the horse’s head from going over the rider’s hands.

User comments: The running martingale is generally provided with young or green equines. If the steed gets excited and his head goes up also high, the device will engage and also cause a downward pull on the reins, helping the rider keep control. Once the steed has actually gone a duration of time without control concerns, the rider can cease making use of the running martingale. However before, some riders opt to usage it regularly on a high-strung horse that gets too “amped.”

Gimmick concerns: “Many type of riders misunderstand the purpose of the running martingale, and think it should be offered to acquire the steed to reduced his head rather of preventing the head from gaining also high,” claims Goodnight. “There’s a large difference.”

Adjustment is another aspect. When the gadget is appropriately readjusted, the rider have to have the ability to lift the martingale’s rings all the method to the horse’s throat; any shorter and the tool will pull down on the reins when the horse’s head and the rider’s hands are in a normal place, interfering with communication from the rider’s hands.

Goodnight cautions that one more prevalent mistake is to usage the running martingale without rein stops, which attach to the reins (listed below the martingale’s rings) and proccasion the rings from sliding up as well much and also getting captured on the little. “This can cause some crazy wrecks and also result in injury to both horse and also rider,” she says.

When effectively readjusted and also offered via rein stops, the running martingale is reasonably benign, with bit potential for abusage. But if it’s adjusted also tightly and also pulls down on the reins to reduced the head, it becomes a crutch that the rider can’t wean amethod from—because once it’s taken off, the rein cues feel entirely various to the horse.

Steer clear if: Your equine is chronically out of manage already and you don’t recognize how to sheight it from happening. “Don’t think the running martingale will certainly resolve any kind of problems,” alerts Goodnight. “It doesn’t prevent the equine from acquiring out of control, but it might assist you reget manage. You’ll still need to settle the training or physical problem that results in the trouble.”

Germale Martingale

Tack Item: Gerguy martingale. Alias: cowboy martingale.


Germale martingale: a brief piece of leather that runs from the cinch, in between the front legs, and forks to create two pieces that run via the a snaffle’s rings and also affix to the continual reins. 

Charles Brooks

The expert: Al Dunning, Team H&R member whose achievements include winning civilization championships in reining, cutting, functioning cow equine, and also Western riding.

Description: A short piece of rope or leather is attached to the D-ring at the facility of the front cinch. This forks to create two pieces, each of which runs with the rings of the snaffle little and attaches to the continual reins, around 18 inches behind the bit.

How it works: When a equine raises his head, the continual reins go sabsence yet the brief leads of the Gerguy martingale come to be taut, exerting press on the little bit. If the equine yields to the pressure and also lowers his head, the Germale martingale goes sabsence and also response is recovered to the reins themselves.

User comments: “I’m an advocate of it,” states Dunning. “If there’s one item of specialty tools I would certainly recommend, this is it. I’ve also designed my own Al Dunning German Martingale.”

Dunning goes on to explain that if the horse raises his head out of position, shedding poll flexion and also tipping his nose upward, the Germale martingale exerts push and reminds the steed to guideline his nose and also reduced his head. If the steed pushes against the rider’s hands, the tool engperiods to assist carry his head earlier to a soft, vertical place. Then, it releases and permits the rider to ride through hands on the directly rein, through nopoint pulling on the little.

Gimmick concerns: To be effective, the German martingale have to be changed to release once the horse’s head becomes vertical. Even when properly fitted, the gadget have the right to act easily and unexpectedly, leading to unpredictable reactions in a equine that’s not accustomed to it. Also, this gear won’t compensate for a rider that doesn’t recognize how to get proper drive and collection in the hind end.

“All these (tie-down) devices are no great unmuch less you use your legs and also ride the ago of the horse to the front,” states Dunning. “All of them provide resistance in front, so you have the right to drive the back finish and also get the horse to round up.”

Steer clear if: Your steed has a propensity to rear. As a German martingale engperiods on a rearing steed, it can reason him to lose his balance and also fall over.


Tack item: Tie-down.


Tie-down: leather, rope, or nylon strap that attaches to the center ring of the cinch, runs through the breast collar, and attaches to a noseband also sustained by a hanger that loops over the horse’s poll.

Charles Brooks

The expert: Fred Whitarea, seven-time Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association World Champion Calf Roper and also 1999 PRCA All-Around Champion.

Description: A leather, rope, or nylon strap is attached to the D-ring of the cinch, run up through the breastern collar, and also linked to a noseband that’s sustained by a hanger that loops over the horse’s poll. Nosebands have the right to be soft, as through a large strap of smooth saddle leather, or difficult, using a narrower product such as nylon strap or a item of braided rope or cable, the last frequently covered with a sheath of rubber or plastic.

How it works: A tie-down is a simple tool. If the horse raises his head, the tie-down exerts pressure on the nose; it deserve to additionally be designed to exert press on the poll via the bridle-like hanger.

User comments: “A tie-dvery own keeps the horse’s head down and also out of the means and also gives him somepoint to brace against when he stops,” says Whitarea. “I usage several different kinds, either soft or hard, depending on the steed.” The roper likewise claims that as soon as the steed lifts his head in the stop and also feels the tension of the tie-down, his first reaction is to earlier, which is desirable. But, he adds, “If the (roping) equine is impressive, you can not need the tie-dvery own.”

Gimmick concerns: Roping is a fast occasion, and also as shortly as a run is over, the rider can release push by unsnapping the tie-dvery own. But for daily riding, the constant use of a tie-down puts strain on the neck muscles and also vertebrae, perhaps leading to arthritis over the long term.

Outside the arena, a equine encounters uneven ground, obstacles, and also even more that can upcollection his balance. Due to the fact that a steed offers his neck for balance, a tie-dvery own have the right to proccasion him from regetting lost balance and hence reason wrecks. Horses crossing streams with tie-downs have actually drowned. More, tie-downs deserve to be crutches that compensate for poor training, hefty hands, or fear on the component of the rider.

“It might be a cliché, but I always tell civilization, ‘You have to be smarter than your equine,’” advises Whitfield. “Whether to usage a tie-down, and also what type you use, has actually a lot to execute through the equine you’re riding.”

Steer clear if: Your horse has an undiagnosed factor for tossing his head. For circumstances, if he has actually dental problems or a pinching little bit, making use of a tie-down won’t resolve the underlying issues.


Tack item: Sidepull. Aliases: Bitless bridle, Bozo bridle, Indian hackaeven more, and a number of others called for their inventors.


Sidepull: this design consists of a leather headstall through reins that attach close to the cheeks. The reins cross below the horse’s jaw and also run through rings located simply below the noseband also. 

Charles Brooks

The expert: Kristie Peterboy, four-time Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Barrel Racer.

Description: A variety of deindications are categorized as sidepulls and also bitless bridles, yet two major deindicators preconquer. 

The first is a leather or nylon headstall, virtually prefer a htransform. The reins connect near the cheek, cross below the horse’s jaw, and also then run via steel rings located simply below the noseband also. It’s the gentler of the 2 deindications.

Peterson’s Bozo Sidepull Bridle by Standard Equine® is a replica of the headequipment provided by Peterson on her equine, French Flash Hawk (Bozo), who lugged her to 4 people titles. These are akin to “soft” mechanical hackamores, via steel shanks, a noseband also, and also curb chain under the jaw.

How it works: Rather than applying push to the mouth, sidepulls exert push either on the nose and chin, or the nose, chin, and also poll. Reining is mainly direct: If the rider pulls on one rein, it directs the horse’s head to that side. When the rider pulls on both reins, push is exerted down and also back to “check” the steed or signal a sheight.

User comments: Early in Bozo’s career, Peterkid ran mainly in futurity occasions using an O-ring snaffle little bit. “Bozo never before chosen the snaffle—he always gagged,” she claims. “After he acquired to be 5 years old, my frifinish Steve Lazor made a sidepull. I tried it on Bozo, and he never before offered anything else his whole career.”

Peterson currently recommends a sidepull as soon as a equine is bit-sensitive, susceptible to throwing or shaking his head, roots at a bit, or has actually experienced dental or tongue damages. It’s additionally a solution for riders that are also energetic with their hands or, as she states, “constantly ride through their hands in the horse’s mouth.” A equine that’s been desensitized to bit regulate could additionally respond to a changeover to a sidepull architecture.

The champion barrel racer likewise recommends her architecture for barrel horses that tend to laterally overbfinish, and also even for trail riding. “I discover via many horses, it relaxes them,” she says.

Gimmick concerns: Although bridlemuch less designs are fashionable among individuals looking for humane gear, some side pulls deserve to in reality be harsh. Placed high up on the horse’s challenge, they have the right to put pressure on sensitive facial nerves. They have the right to likewise exert vise-favor pressure on the nose and mandible, specifically the hackamore-like deindications with shanks that increase leverage.

Creators of specific designs claim them to be pain-cost-free, making the point that the bitless-bridle architecture exerts push across a wide area, including the poll, nose, and jaw—as though the rider is cradling the horse’s head. Weigh such clintends versus your horse’s degree of training.

Steer clear if: A little already functions for your steed. “This isn’t a training device,” Peterboy notes of her Bozo sidepull. “It’s for a finished equine.” Also, any type of of these deindicators can not be permissible in the arena by competitive associations. Be sure to examine rules before committing to a routine that employs one of the sidepull or bitless-bridle designs.

Mechanical Hackamore

Tack item: Mechanical hackamore. Aliases: Mechanical bridle, Kelly hackaeven more.

Mechanical hackamore: a noseband that attaches to 2 steel shanks that connect to a curb chain run under the horse’s chin. This headequipment applies vise-choose pressure once reins are tightened.

Charles Brooks

The expert: Clinton Anderchild, renowned clinician, Team H&R member, and also star of the Fox Sports Net display Downunder Horsemanship.

Description: A mechanical hackamore opeprices as a bitless-bridle design based on the classic bosal, in that it uses push to the bridge of a horse’s nose and beneath his lower jaw. But unprefer the noseband of a bosal, the noseband also of a mechanical hackamore attaches to 2 steel shanks, to which is attached a curb chain that runs under the horse’s chin.

How its works: When a rider draws the reins, he or she engeras the shanks, which consequently tighten the curb chain. This exerts pressure on the noseband, recording the horse’s nose and also reduced jaw through a vise-like activity. Reining tends to be straight, as pulling on a single rein will pull the horse’s challenge in that direction (although this isn’t crucial if a equine is trained to neck rein).

User comments: Like many other trainers, Anderchild sees bit utility in this architecture because it’s hardly ever allowed for arena use.

“I don’t favor it,” he claims flatly. “It often tends to lift the head, and it have the right to additionally cause the equine to throw his head. And it can’t be used for the majority of show competitions. I discover it best not to usage tools you can’t show in.”

That said, Anderboy admits that some riders can discover the mechanical hackamore beneficial. “Any item of equipment can work-related via the ideal rider, through a rider who has light and also sensitive hands. But through the wrong rider, the mechanical hackaeven more exerts a lot of push on the nose. There’s just a lot of pressure that comes from those lengthy shanks.”

Gimmick concerns: This is a piece of equipment that has actually its area. For the recreational trail rider whose horse is trustworthy without continuous rein push, the mechanical hackamore deserve to be useful in that it conveniently permits grazing yet affords manage as soon as crucial. Similarly, it deserve to resolve troubles for the rider whose steed has end up being desensitized to the bit or has actually facial or cranial worries.

However, one requirements to be sensitive to the reality that, also though it might show up more forgiving than a little bit, the mechanical hackamore creates an excellent deal of leverage and can be abusive in difficult hands.

Steer clear if: You don’t have actually a dedicated require, as outlined above; your aim is to complete in the display arena; or your steed is already functioning well in a typical little. An different, such as a sidepull or a conventional bosal, can be a far better solution for many kind of riders than a mechanical hackaeven more.

Twisted-Wire Snaffle

Tack item: Twisted-wire snaffle.

Twisted-wire snaffle: two O-rings linked by pieces of twisted wire joined and also joined in the middle. Use needs supreme treatment, skill.

Charles Brooks

The expert: Gordon Potts, Team H&R member and owner/founder of The Brass Ring, a full-business show-horse, training, and reproduction facility that’s developed Arabian national champions in English and Western events.

Description: The twisted-wire snaffle is made of 2 O-rings bridged by pieces of twisted wire joined in the middle. Use requires care and ability.

How it works: The non-smooth surface of the mouthpiece sensitizes the horse’s mouth to little bit pressure. Many kind of trainers advocate a development of bits, in which the steed is started through a smooth, large-surconfront snaffle, then moves to smaller-surface and even more sensitizing snaffles as he gains endure and also maybe becomes less responsive to the previously bits. In theory, the steed need to maintain responsiveness and lightness throughout the development.

However before, if a steed need to become less responsive, a trainer can employ a twisted-wire snaffle for brief durations to lighten up a horse’s mouth.

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User comments: “When a steed is obtaining dull on a smooth snaffle, the twisted-wire snaffle provides you a place to go,” states Potts. “When offered effectively, it’s a valuable tool for advancing a horse’s training.”

Gimmick concerns: A twisted-wire snaffle have the right to damage a horse’s mouth if not used with supreme care and ability. It need to never before be employed by an unschooled or heavy-handed rider, whose absence of feel and timing can be the extremely cause of the horse’s dullness to a milder little bit. “In the wrong hands, this little bit deserve to cut into a horse’s mouth, which have the right to cause head tossing and acquiring ‘above the bridle,’” advises Potts.

Steer clear if: You’re not a light-handed rider through a well-advanced degree of feel, and/or you’re a rider that can’t manage his or her temper and digresses to jerking on the reins once a equine isn’t performing as desired. 


Tagsterms:Al DunningRunning MartingaleTie-downWestern Tack And GearWestern TackSide-pullGerman MartingaleTwisted SnaffleHackamoresHorsemanshipDraw ReinsTackHorse Headgear