Hackamores and snaffle bits serve the same purpose.

They are both used for starting horses.

Free Carson James Insider Exclusive Checklist...


Your horse's lack of mental soundness is the key root to most problems. Get the mind right and you'll have the dream horse who's not easily distracted, doesn't spook easily, and is able to hold it together when something unexpected happens. Grab my mental checklist to see if your horse can check off all the boxes.

Some people prefer snaffle bits and some people prefer using a hackamore.

My personal preference is to start horses in a hackamore.

(If you want to see why, you can watch this video I made about it).

But every horse should eventually graduate from the snaffle or the hackamore (if you want them to progress).

Both are used at the beginning stages of the horses training.

And over time, they need to be upgraded to the two-rein, and then finally the bit by itself.

Many people (and possibly even you reading this) have problems with bits.

And I get that.

There are some very abusive bits out there (like the shank bit) that I would NEVER use on any horse.

I’ve seen some horses severely abused because the riders didn’t have a clue what they were doing, and their horse was nowhere near ready for the bit they were using.

But when you slowly graduate your horse from one stage to the next, by the time they get to the bit, they are (ideally) already so light to the touch that you barely even have to use much pressure on the reins to get them to do anything.

You can see an example here.

Where most people get into trouble is trying to use a “college level” bit while the horse is still in kindergarten.

That’s why it’s crucial to train your horse in stages and meet him at the level he’s at.

Also, here’s a quick video on transitioning from hackamore, to the two-rein, to the bridle:

The drawings in this video are done by my good friend James Shoshone.

And with all of that said, if you want to continue riding your horse in a hackamore, and you’re ok with keeping him at the level he’s at, then there’s nothing wrong with doing so.

Carson James
Carson James

Carson James' background is in Vaquero Horsemanship. For the majority of his career, he worked on cattle ranches where he rode horses all day, every day. He was often in situations where he either had to figure out how to help the horse understand, or it could easily turn into a life or death situation. Carson now travels the country putting on training clinics teaching people the fundamentals of Horsemanship. He has a unique way of breaking things down where they're easy to understand, both for the horse and the human.