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Heritage Hackamores

Bosals with leather buttons over a rawhide body are part of a long tradition in this part of California. The earliest maker I know of who probably introduced this version of the hackamore was Frank Mayfield (also a saddlemaker, he made bits and spurs as well as mecates). He was a huge influence on Wes Wimmer who is best known for his bits and spurs, but who also braided as well as made mecates.

Chuck Irwin

The other big name also influenced by Mayfield was Jess Wilkinson (also his brother, Ab). Jess was Ernie Morris's grandfather. Quite a bit of what I do comes from Ernie. Two other braiders known for the leather/rawhide combo are Ernie Ladoucer and Chuck Irwin (Chuck still braids a little, but now in his 90‘s he mostly makes really good using bits).

A little history there, but the important part is function. I think we are still trying to rediscover what the old timers knew. Used to make both rawhide as well as leather buttons and people bought what they liked. But, we started to notice folks riding multiple horses with one bosal did best with the leather nose button. That was an “ah hah!” moment.

Talking to Ernie Morris has confirmed my thinking that the leather buttons are more versatile simply because they are easier to re-shape by hand moving from horse to horse. It can be hard to drag information out of Ernie. He was raised with the idea of secrecy about the methods of horsemanship and taught to "keep it in the family." He will, however, smile a little and confirm when I am on the right track. I am really grateful to Ernie and other “viejos” for their help.

Unfortunately, the idea of secrecy has caused the tradition of the bridle horse to almost disappear. We are trying to keep it alive. This is why those bosals you bought and threw away are the ones that are easy to find. Too many braiders have copied others over and over again never realizing what they are making won't work. Even though the remaining old timers have started to talk a little, not all bosal makers are listening. Perhaps they do not realize the importance of these techniques and don't want to take the extra time required to follow traditional methods. But truly - the slow way is often the fast way!

 

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