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Bosal Fit and Adjustment

CC Bosal
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Bosal fit is more important to success in the hackamore than many folks realize.

A well-fitted hackamore/bosal is able to transmit clear and concise impulses as signals to your horse. This allows you to use a lighter, more sensitive touch. The use of a shorter, more conforming nose button, spreads the pressure more evenly over a larger facial surface area.

Properly fitted and adjusted, the CC hackamore/bosal conforms to the nose and sides of the face more akin to the fit of a custom hat that doesn't squeeze or pinch. This allows the bosal to focus on the fatty tissues of the sides of the face more than the boney structures.

Correctly made and positioned, small side buttons not only keep the hanger in place to function well, but they also help lessen more potential wobble, static and irritation. The action of the bosal is freed. Your horse can listen, learn or work while comfortable.

A poorly-fitted bosal

Using a big, loose, floppy hackamore/bosal with a nose button that springs the branches and creates gaps on the sides of the horse's face can concentrate the point of pressure in a smaller area on the nasal area. The bone is only covered by thin skin. The potential for pain and discomfort is inherent. All of the weight of the bosal with the added weight of the mecate sit on one spot on the horse's nose potentially causing tenderness. This can lead to training or behavioral issues. The bosal at left is a horse’s nightmare. Notice the rough braiding, poor fit, use of a headstall instead of hanger and extra long nose button. Do yourself and your horse a favor: just say "No.”

If “cherries” or skinned, sore spots happen, have someone else check to see if you are bumping your horse, hanging on the mecate reins for balance or there needs to be more adjustment.

Remember: the hackamore stage of the bridling process requires several diameters of bosals and mecates. They decrease in width and weight with advancement. Trainers need to also put together a collection of a variety of interior lengths, nose button lengths and styles as well as varying degrees of flex and branch flexes. These can be great tools aiding in their work. 

Buy the best equipment you are able to and trade up. Don't fight your equipment. Your horses should be comfortable whether working or training. Invest for success and be proud of your horses.


You will want to hand shape the hackamore/bosal. CC's shorter nose buttons enable a good fit. They don't spring the bosal bars/branches open. Having been hand made by order for a general size, shape and type of horse, each awaits specific shaping. With our CC Heritage Hackamores, this can be done by hand in a moment to fit each horse. If more closeness is desired, then an appropriately sized can will do to shape the lower bars a little. Don’t waste time, effort and money on gimmicks.

A poorly fitted bosal.

Left: An ill-fitting bosal. Notice the gaps all around the face, somewhat like a hula hoop.Also note how the weight of the bosal is entirely on top of the sensitive bony structure of the face.
Photo Courtesy of Cris Fisher

Right: A well-fitting bosal. Notice the close fit that follows the contour of the horse's face. This is an example of the immediate fit of a custom-made California Classic's HH 5/8ths with roo. 

Underneath, there needs to be a space between the horse's jaw and the mecate knot above the bosal’s heel knot to allow for the lift and full release. This width will vary from horse to horse. Facilitating the release is imperative since that is primarily how the horse will learn. With the hackamore, however, it is not a full drop/release. We want a continuance of flow. More about this is another article.

Each horse and rider will have preferences as to the position of the hackamore/bosal. We believe that there are some "sweet spots" that work better for individual horses; however, that does not mean that those spots should be continually used and desensitized.

Try starting the bosal positioned on the face above the V where the bone tapers and thins. Using your index finger and thumb you will feel them drop in at the top of the V on either side. Don’t position below the top of the V without real reason and experience: needless permanent damage can result.

Adjust the bosal location level up during the day (and at various stages of the process) via the simple, but effective hanger (without metal). This aids in preserving the sensitivity we want as well as the clarity of communication needed. Hangers that are correctly braided on the bosal permit and encourage the needed action. Conversely, those that are looped on restrict the lift and release fulcrum. These, as well as headstalls, should be avoided for this reason. 

Avoid causing the young horse to become overly tired or sore. It will pay big dividends in the long run. Ideally, time with you for work or play should be enjoyable for both.

When we remove the hackamore, we like to see an even sweat pattern on horses that sweat on the face. Dry spots reveal areas that are not in light contact with the bosal. NOTE: Some horses do not sweat much (except with long winter hair and lots of work). The uniform sweat pattern shown at left indicates an excellent fit.

Each CC Heritage Hackamore is made with a tie back latigo until the 3/8ths diameter. For horses with wide set eyes, the hanger may need to be tied back (half an inch or so is fine) away from the corner of the horse's eyes. For many this is not necessary, but don't cut off the tie back: instead fasten it out of the way over the crown. It may come in handy for another horse.

People ask about so-called "nerve knots" on the bosal. These nerve knots are always "on" and become pressure points of discomfort for the horse. 

With a correctly sized, fitted and adjusted bosal, very little movement of the mecate reins is necessary to send clear communication. As a result, the nose button does not travel too much. The fulcrum is working and balanced properly. Potential pressure is spread out since bosal pressure/weight is not condensed on a small area on the horse's nose creating tender spots. Braces and avoidance issues are minimized and a positive communication foundation can be built in the hackamore on the journey to the bridle horse.

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