Buying a Hackamore

Bosals and rawhide tack can vary in many ways, some which denote a particular style of the braider and some which are due to the availability of the raw products. When buying a hackamore there are various considerations some that relate to the owner and some to the horse. It is therefore important to ensure you know what you are looking to achieve and where you and your horse are starting from e.g. a yearling, two rein transition, a troubled horse or an alternative to a bitted bridle for a horse with dental issues.

Tradition suggests that the hackamore was a training and starting device which saw horses progress into the bridle. This transition encompassed the horse moving through the varying hackamores, where the mecate corresponded to the same size of bosal i.e.; 5/8” mecate to a 5/8” bosal, ½” to ½” mecate 3/8” mecate to a 3/8” bosal and so on.

Matching the diameter and size of the bosal help ensure that the weight corresponds with that of the bosal. This has a direct impact as to the speed of the release of the bosal and the sense of feel that that you receive through the reins from either a lighter bosalito or heavier 5/8” bosal. Hence a more advanced horse requires a lighter and less rigid (cheek) bosal
Bosal Size (cheek measurement)

  • 3/4” for potentially larger horses (largest contact area across the nose button)
  • 5/8” size normally tended to start horses (2nd largest contact area)
  • 1/2” transition into the two rein
  • 3/8” - 1/4” (bosalito) inch for two reining

The average length of our bosal is 11.5 inches, however significant adjustment is possible with the use of a shaper and the wrapping of the mecate, which can be used to reduce the inner depth, although this will impact on the balance.

Plaits

Our bosals are extremely refined both the button and cheeks are far smoother compared to the heavily textured lower plaited bosals which can cause excessive abrasions to the horse. So there will be no requirement to try to soften the bosal by adding a cotton wrap, tape or similar. Remember though light hands are the key and heavy hands and ill-fitting tack can always cause damage whether a high/low plaited bosal, snaffle or ported bit are being used. Plaits vary from anything from an 8 plait cheeks up to a 6o+ plait cheek with 80+ strand nose button. A common concern with bosals and other rawhide tack is the curling of the hide over time which can occur on cheaper products. However, with our finely braided goat hide, curls never occur due to the strand width and thickness being of such a close ratio, on lower plaited bosals strands are bevelled to prevent this curling.

Flex

The flex of the bosal is determined by a variety of criteria including; a. type of hide and preparation, b. braided rawhide or twisted rawhide core, c. braiding technique. The flexibility which occurs in the cheeks varies and can be selected based on the horse and its progression. Firmer rigid bars send a more direct signal and softer a more subtle signal

Characteristics to consider include

Material:

  • Calf Hide
  • Cow Hide
  • Latigo leather
  • Goat hide
  • Kangaroo hide
  • Colouration - Natural hide colour, Natural Dye
  • Coloured accents
  • Two, three toned braiding

Size & Weight

  • Nose button length
  • Size: (cheeks) ¾”, 5/8”, ½”, 3/8”
  • Size: Bosal Internal depth
  • Number of plaits (cheeks) – 12, 16, 24 ,36, 46, 56, 60+
  • Number of plaits (nosebutton size) – 60+
  • Weight and balance (the pivot point)
  • Heel Knot design – flush cheeks or plug
  • Flex – soft medium firm (consider horse stage of training)
  • Integral buttons at the nose and beneath