Bosals - Hackamores

Many riders feel that their horses respond better if a bitless bridle is used.  Before I get into more details about hackamores and bosals, I wanted to share a special video with you.

I have watched this video many times.  I never tire of seeing it over and over again.  Many of you have probably already seen Stacy Westfall's Freestyle performance, but if you haven't, you are in for a real treat!  Stacy puts her horse through his paces riding bareback and bridleless.

What is a Hackamore?

The hackamore describes a type of bridle that is bitless.  Instead of a bit, it has a special noseband that places pressure on the face, nose and chin.

It is commonly used with the Western style of riding.  It is very popular with endurance and competitive trail riders.

Often the hackamore is used when training a young horse or in horses that have dental or mouth injuries that a bit could aggreviate and cause pain. Once a horse has learned the basics then a trainer may choose to introduce the horse to a bit.  Some trainers never use the hackamore, while other horse trainers prefer the bosal and never introduce the bit.

The Bosal

The classic hackamore features a bosal which is a thick, leather braided noseband.  Sometimes people refer to this type of bitless bridle as a bosal or a bosal hackamore.  Technically, the bosal is the noseband portion of the bridle.

The bosal comes in different diameter sizes and weights.  They are usually made of braided rawhide.  The wider or thicker the diameter of the bosal, the more gentle.  The thinner, smaller diameter of the bosal is more severe.  Much of this depends on the rider's hands.

The bosal puts pressure on the nose and jaw and relys on pressure rather than leverage.  The long rope rein that is tied to the back of the bosal is called a mecate.

Mechanical Hackamore

The mechanical hackamore looks like a regular bridle, minus the bit.  The noseband is often a piece of leather with fleece backing which is attached to shanks similar to a western curb bit.

There is usually a curb strap or chain attached to the shanks that applies leveraged pressure to the chin, while the noseband applies pressure to the nose.

A hackamore can be gentle or harsh.  As with the bit, the severity depends on the rider's hands.  Improper fit or rough use can cause damage to the nose cartilage.

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