We know proper hackamore fit is important for correct function, but it can be a challenge to get the necessary information to learn how one should fit. To confuse things even more, there is a huge variety of hackamores available to riders.
In this article we’ll focus on the type of hackamore that’s made up of a noseband with nose button (1) that is often called a bosal, a hanger (4) or headstall and a single rein called a mecate (3). Depending on the region where you live, the words bosal and hackamore may be used interchangeably. This type of hackamore was introduced into California and western North America from northern Mexico in the late 1700s. According to horseman, judge and multiple champion Bobby Ingersoll, “The hackamore phase is the most important training a horse will receive in his life; it is during hackamore training that the horse learns to be consistent with balance and feel.”*
Common materials used in construction of the hackamore are rawhide, kangaroo, latigo, rope and horse hair. The needs of your horse and its stage of training will help determine what the bosal you use should be made of. The rawhide, kangaroo and latigo are cut into even strips, beveled and braided around a flexible but firm core commonly made of coiled rawhide. The nose button and heel knot (2) are also made of braided rawhide, kangaroo or latigo. Rope hackamores are made of a single piece of rope and usually have a nose button of braided rawhide, latigo or nylon cord and a heel knot of braided rawhide. Horse hair hackamores are made of twisted mane hair with a rawhide heel knot. The hangers and headstalls are generally made of leather. The hangers are made of a single, narrow piece of leather and may be held out of the eye with a leather string going under the cheek. Headstalls usually have a brow band with fiador which helps to keep the headstall away from the horse’s eyes. Mecates are made of twisted horse hair or nylon rope and should be close to the same diameter as the bosal.
General guidelines for adjusting the hackamore correctly are: (A) Adjust it so it lies evenly on the nose between the inside corner of the eye and the bottom of the nostril. (B) The mecate should be tied to the bosal with just enough wraps that you can fit 2 fingers between the chin and the mecate knot. The mecate knot should rest on the chin when the horse is at rest. (C) It’s important not to use a bosal that’s too long for your horse. If the heel knot hits the horse’s chest when the mecate is pulled and/or he gives his head to the pressure of the pull you know the bosal is too long.
We’ll talk some more next week about fit, function and use of the hackamore. Dennis Moreland Tack has a large selection of bosals and hackamores available in various sizes and diameters to fit your horse’s needs. Check them out here: http://bit.ly/1WeeGIQ. Call Dennis Moreland Tack at 817-312-5305 or email [email protected] with any questions.
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*The Legendary California Hackamore & Stock Horse by Bobby Ingersoll, pg. 46, copyright 2006 Stoecklein Publishing and Bobby Ingersoll. ISBN 978-1-931153-96-6.