We commonly see California bosals or hackamores in a variety of diameters from 3/8 inch up to ¾ or 1 inch. It’s hard to know which diameter should be used and when to transition to a different diameter.
The California hackamore has 3 parts: the noseband or bosal, the headstall or hanger and the mecate (rein). Traditional nosebands are made with a stiff or soft core of twisted rawhide or rope. Beveled rawhide or leather (kangaroo or latigo leather) strips are braided over the core to form the body of the hackamore. A nose button is braided over the body. The nose button should be about 7 inches long, balanced in weight and proportion to the body and heel knot of the hackamore, and tapered at the edges. The braid on the nose button should be made of finer strips than the braid on the body. Also braided on each side of the body are side button knots. The hanger or headstall is attached between these and the nose button to hold the hanger in place.
The hackamore works by applying pressure to the nose, the sides of the face and the chin. When the mecate is pulled vertically the nose button puts pressure on the nose. When the mecate is pulled laterally the buttons apply pressure on the sides of the nose and face. The heavy weight of the heel knot allows a quick release of the pressure on the nose when the mecate is released.
Traditional hackamores are built in a variety of diameters. Trainers start with a large diameter hackamore and as the horse progresses in its training they transition it to successively smaller diameters. Two time AQHA Cow Horse World Champion trainer Matt Koch says hackamore training really gives a horse an advantage. He recommends starting a horse in a large diameter softer cored hackamore and “just let the horse pack the hackamore around for a few days. Go real slow and don’t train on the horse during this time and see how the horse responds to that hackamore.” Koch says “some horses prefer rawhide on the nose button and side buttons and some prefer leather. Some will respond better to a softer, looser hackamore and some like a stiffer cored hackamore. Just ease around in it left and right at the start then ease into maneuvers.” Matt says “You’ll know by the way they carry themselves and if they respond with suppleness when you ask for a turn if they like the way the hackamore feels. If not, try something a little different until you get that response.” Koch says “left and right is way more important than gathering up at the start.” The 3/4 inch diameter hackamore works well for starting most horses. It’s a good idea to get both stiff and soft cored hackamores so you’ll have what you need for each horse you ride.
Hackamores should be made of high quality properly cured hides. Good hides will produce a hackamore that is firm but flexible. When you take it in your hands and bend it the hackamore should instantly snap back into shape. A hackamore that droops or does not snap back will not function properly.
Dennis Moreland Tack handmade California bosals (hackamores) are built in a variety of diameters and sizes, of both rawhide and leather, with stiff or soft cores to meet all your training needs. Call 817-312-5305 with any questions.
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