The Easy Stop is so named because it has the power to really rate a horse and enhance its brakes. It is rarely used in competition (with the exception of barrel racing, where it is sometimes seen) but is common in the training pen. It is one-of-a-kind type of hackamore, which puts pressure between the jawbones. The reins are attached to the odd-looking shanks. Pulling back applies pressure underneath the jaw, while the already-tight noseband tightens down further on the nasal bones. This is a very sensitive area, so horses are very responsive to the Easy Stop. They will back off of it quickly, so it can (in fact, must) be ridden with very soft hands so as not to cause the horse pain or even damage the nerves. Once a horse figures out what is going on, it will respond to even the lightest touch of the reins. I classify this as a very severe hackamore. A heavy-handed rider or a green horse would not match with the Easy Stop at all….the horse could easily get scared and rear as a result of its unique action.
The Easy Stop has tons of "whoa," but almost no turn. A horse must be well schooled in neck-reining, or respond to a sidepull-type action, in order to use this hackamore.
Bump 'n' Turn Hackamores
The bump 'n' turn (also called the stop and turn) is a funny little hackamore, used mainly in barrel racing.
The solid metal bar goes underneath the chin and is basically a very severe, strong curb that puts pressure on the jawbones. This hackamore has a lot of "whoa," but, despite the name, not much turn--it works rather like a sidepull in this department. You aren't meant to keep pulling and pulling on it--just pick up the reins and bump, then release pressure. It should only be used on certain horses because it's pretty harsh, and most horses don't like it. The bar underneath the chin can be covered with a bit-wrap-like material to cushion it, but steer clear of Vetrap, which compresses into a hard mass and can actually draw blood. The rope noseband is pretty harsh, and on poorly-made models, the knots that are intended to hold the bridle in place can slip, leading to a crooked fit. Only use this hackamore when correcting a problem, and even then only with the lightest hands possible.
The mechanical hackamore is an often-used and often-misunderstood piece of equipment. Even though it is a hackamore, not a bit, this piece of equipment is quite harsh. The shanks are very long and usually straight, meaning that they magnify rein pressure and give a lot of leverage power to the curb chain underneath the jaw. A heavy-handed rider giving a strong, harsh jerk to the reins could easily damage the bone or even do nerve damage. Additionally, when the noseband is constructed of such materials as rope, rawhide, or bikechain, pressure across the nose can become quite severe. Gentler versions include chain encased in plastic tubing, fleece, or flat leather. The curb chain could theoretically be replaced with a leather curb strap, as well, greatly decreasing the harsh effect of this hackamore.
The mechanical hackamore should only be used on well-broke, neck-reined horses--never on colts or those in training. It has no direct pull action whatsoever--pulling on one rein causes the entire curb chain to be tightened, giving the horse a cue to stop, but not to turn, bend, or flex--hence causig confusion and frustration. It has a lot of "whoa" for the reasons detailed above, and works well when a good stop, but not turn, is necessary. It may be used on older, broke horses who are suffering mouth injuries and cannot use a bit with good results.
Never snatch the reins suddenly when using the hackamore. The effect is intense pain, and the horse's reaction is likely to be violent.
Little "S" Hackamore
I love to use the Little S on greenies who hate bits, horses who need to lighten up in the mouth, those who need noseband action but not a full-fledged combination bit, horses who are learning to neck-rein but are confused by shanked bits, those who know the basics of lateral movement but still need some work on it; in the training pen, while trail riding, and on some barrel horses. Needless to say, it's extremely versatile.
Pulling on the reins rotates the "S" shank that gives the hackamore its name. This tightens the curb chain and brings the noseband down slightly. I consider this to be a rather mild hackamore with an almost bit-like action.
It's good for both direct reining and neck reining (I actually try to teach neck reining in a snaffle bit, but the bit's action makes this rather difficult. As you put your rein across a colt's neck, the bit pulls on their mouth slighlty, confusing them and giving them a conflicting signal. So I switch to a hackamore or halter to test how much they know, and suddenly they get a lot more comfortable neck reining because there aren't two commands going on at once). And, for a hackamore, it has a suprisingly good amound of lift, bend, and flex.
It's not the best for collection. I recommend teaching collection in another bit, then switching to the hack. The knowledge should transfer over.
The short, curvy shanks make this a very gentle hackamore when compared to several others. You'll often see this hackamore sold with a leather noseband to replace the abrasive rope, and this increases its gentleness.