All bitless bridles are a form of Hackamore. Hackamore simply means nose or jaw pressure. So when speaking about the hackamore, it’s helpful to identify the type of hackamore as they look very different and perform different functions.
This is the most basic design of bitless bridle, contacting only the nose and without any leverage or squeezing action. Pictured is the Dressage Naturally bridle by Karen Rohlf. The placement of the rings to which the reins attach affect both the amount of pressure on the nose and stability of the bridle.
Probably the most widely recognised, the shanks usually associated with this bridle are the English design. Pictured is the S Hackamore. The longer the shank, the stronger the leverage, which increases pressure on the nose, curb and poll. The release is instant.
Usually a much shorter shank than the leverage bridle, the shanks feature several areas for rein placement, altering the amount of leverage on the nose and curb and even removing leverage in some settings, making the function the same as a sidepull. These shanks are not long enough to create poll pressure.
The scawbrig features a noseband similar to the sidepull, except the curb strap is fed through the nose ring and connected with the reins. When the reins are used the curb strap shortens, increasing pressure around the curb and nose, with instant pressure/release. Usually the curb strap features padding to aid with comfort and turning cues.
There are many different types of bosals, shown here is the California Bosal, a bridle very popular in western riding. The noseband is made from braided rawhide with a solid rawhide core.
The crossunder was famously patented by Dr Bob Cook, so it’s often called the Dr Cook, however the bridle was invented long before. Shown is the Ultimate bitless bridle which is a modern adaption of the crossunder. These bridles are usually well known for a hugging feeling for the horse and slow release.
Multi-bridles offer a combination of bridle types. This can be very helpful when you wish to try out different feels in communication. The bridle pictured is the Matrix, although these are several other bridles with multi-function such as the Lightrider and the Biggs Comfort bridle.
It is worth noting that the halter, while it may be used as a bridle may not be legally classed as one and you should check with your insurance before using it on a public highway. Pictured is the Dually halter, which is also known as a pressure halter because it increases pressure on the nose in the similar fashion to a scawbrig, except on the bridge of the nose and closer to both the airways, nerves and blood vessels.