With the increased popularity and awareness of western and bitless riding, the western hackamore or jaquima (the correct name for mecate rein or grass rein, bosal nosepiece, bosal hanger and fiador) has become a more and more common sight in the bitless, trail riding, endurance and the western equitation worlds.
Often simply referred to by the name of the nosepiece, the bosal, what was once a tool reserved by vaqueros for starting a young horse’s ridden life or for taking more seasoned riding horse back to basics to work on shortfalls in their education has now become stock in all good western stores anywhere in the world.
Using a bosal (or for that matter any bitless bridle) with a young horse allows them the room to make the natural mistakes which occur with an unbalanced horse during that early learning phase but protects and preservers the sensitive soft tissue of a young mouth from damage or injury. While in more mature horses, both those which may have developed issues in the mouth resulting from heavy hands or teeth issues and in horses that lug onto the bit, a rider can help soft tissue to heal and regain feel while using a bosal to continuing to advance a horse’s ridden education and work through issues.
Bosals are predominantly made of braided rawhide or leather (and very rarely braided hair or rope), and should only ever be purchased with a core of rawhide, rope, horsehair, old piece of mecate or other natural flexible fibre. Bosals should NEVER have a metal or wire core. While there are many well-made bosals available at reasonable prices in tack shops and online now days, what many of the stores and retailers forget to explain to those new to using a bosal is that it is essential to shape/block your bosal.
While the thickness and size of the braiding may vary, a bosal is essentially a straight piece of circular braiding with the ends pulled together and secured with a heel knot (either round or pear shaped) creating what can be described as an invert teardrop or light bulb shape. What many owners new to using bosals fail to realise is that before you even think about putting that new store bought bosal on your horse it needs to be shaped to take on a form more in keeping to that of the muzzle of a horse.
The F2 bosal shaper is for us a great economical solution. Made from light weight timber it has a curved base to nest firmly towards the heel knot. It also features side channels to hold the bosal cheeks securely and prevent the bosal slipping out the shaper.
Reasons to Shape a Bosal:
- Reduces the breaking in period of your bosal and increases softness of the exterior of the rawhide;
- Improved placement across the bridge of your horse’s nose and encourages a widening towards the heel knot allowing for a better fit to the shape of your horse’s lower jaw;
- Reduces incidence of rubbing and tenderness, particularly across the lower jaw and nose caused by ill-fitting bosals;
- Allows for greater acceptance and response to ridden queues through greater comfort for your horse from the onset.
- Prevents the bosal deforming in the varying humidity of the UK and EU climate.
- Reduces the breaking in period of your bosal Shaping a bosal when storing trains the fibres to fit the shape of your horse and helps keep the rawhide flexible. This is particularly important in the varying humid of the UK and EU climate as moisture, cold and heat can deform your bosal
How to Correctly Use a Bosal Shaper:
- Ensure the bosal is clean and dry;
- Apply a suitable rawhide product over the surface of the entire surface of the bosal and rub in well. We recommend Ray Holes Vaquero Rawhide Cream. Remember NEVER use oil or leather treatments on rawhide.
- Ensuring that the curved side of the bosal shaper faces the heel knot place the bosal shaper firmly as close as possible to the heel knot of the bosal;
- Wind the latigo string round the bosal, sandwiching the bosal cheeks as tight as possible against the bosal block sides.;
- Tie of the latigo string.
Store your bosals when not in use, whether travelling to shows or hanging in the tackroom with a bosal shaper attached so that it is always formed and ready for use when you need to use it.