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Will a Plug in a Bosal Help or Not?

All I have to offer as a rawhider/braider is an opinion. I'll start with how I formed that opinion.

The first bosal I saw with a spacer in it was made by Ernie LeDoucer, probably in the 1950s. Since I knew Bill Dorrance had been a friend of LeDoucer’s, I asked Bill about it.

Bill told me Ernie really liked to experiment and tried quite a few with the spacer. He made a couple himself. The idea was to be easier on the mecate. But, he said, they always had trouble keeping the heel knot from eventually loosening up and the body of the bosal developing a twist in it. So Bill gave up on the plug (spacer), and I guess LeDoucer eventually did, also.  I'm not sure who first came up with the idea, but that was the earliest I have heard of the spacer being incorporated.

It’s become “trendy” today.

From my perspective as a braider, the biggest problem with plugs is that it is very difficult to join the two ends together into a rock solid joint without creating an overly heavy and bulky heel knot. This is something that really needs to be thought through. 

Our friend, braider Bill Black, has made the spacer popular today especially with arena trainers. He started fooling with it just as an experiment. Now, it has become another fad. Bill (Black) doesn't seem to have any trouble with his heel knots staying together, but that is partly because he is a good craftsman and he knows from experience on the ranch how hard horses can be on using gear. The downside is that he ends up with a large, and somewhat heavy, heel knot.

As far as fitting goes, I think it partly depends on the conformation of the horse and the width of the spacer. If the plug is too wide, you will have some trouble shaping the bosal and attaining a close fit along the horse’s jaw. The spacer leaves a big opening into the heart of the heel knot foundation for dirt, insects and moisture to invade. If moisture gets down inside the foundation, eventually it is going to loosen up and/or mold.

For me, the heel knot foundation has been the part I have spent the most time scratching my head over. It is important that the body comes out of the heel knot in a V. This is where the shape of the bosal starts. The construction needs to be rock solid, but not too heavy or bulky. It is also important to seal it up well. With natural materials inside, keeping moisture out is important for the preservation and longevity of the bosal.

 

 

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