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The Northwest Cowgirl 05-18-2012 12:29 AM

Hi guys,
I've only been working with horses for a year or so, and I've never really had to work with different kinds of horse equipment. I've always just had a saddle, saddle pad, bridle + bit, and breast collar for my friends horse that I would ride. So this year when its comes to buying equipment for my own horse and actually competing in 4-H events, I'm at a total loss.

Now, to the actual question. A good friend of mine told me that horses under the age of 5 years-old (Jake is 4) can compete in a bosal for 4-H.
So what exactly is a bosal??
I've searched them on horse supply websites, like Chick Saddlery, and I just keep getting side pulls and hackamores. Is that basically a bosal?? Because I though a bosal was different than a hackamore or side pull, but I have no idea.

Anyways, I just need to be educated on this :-P

RunSlideStop 05-18-2012 01:28 AM

Without posting a huge response here, I will note that bosals and traditional hackamores are similar but by no means the same. Each is used in a different part of training the Vaquero horse, and at some points used together (at the same time). A bosal works off of nose and poll pressure mainly, as well as reins, etc.

I suggest researching Vaquero bosal training ( learn about the spade bit, which is the finished product, if you would like). Some good people to learn about are Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman, as well as Les Vogt.

Best of luck! A horse trained the Vaquero way is a light, responsive, intelligent horse with excellent communication skills and companionship. Trained properly, a "spade horse" can be one of the most balanced, responsive horses you could ride.

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RunSlideStop 05-18-2012 01:36 AM

Here is a photo of a horse in a bosal (nose piece) with hanger (headstall part) and mecate reins:

The mecate reins are made of mohair, and include a third "rope," tucked into the pocket of the rider (Clinton Anderson uses this method, though he doesn't appear to ride with a bosal).

Here you see the hackamore in conjunction with the spade; this horse is probably just learning to carry the complex spade bit and communicate with it, so the hackamore is a sort of backup:

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waresbear 05-18-2012 02:04 AM

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Love a bosal, I like to start a horse in a snaffle to elevate, then move on to a bosal to lower. Using a bosal is different than a bit, your hands are higher, further apart, and it's a lift and a light bump, then lower. Great tool when they are shedding their teeth.

RunSlideStop 05-18-2012 02:11 AM

waresbear, could you expand on that? I am not sure I understand what you mean by raise and lower...?

It should be noted that a bosal is not to be used as a sort of "bitless bridle" to avoid contact with the horse's face, as seen in WP classes today. The bosal is a unique training device: saying horses under 5 may be ridden in one is the equivalent of allowing novice riders or young horses to ride in a snaffle/with two hands.

Just wanted to clear that up.

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iridehorses 05-18-2012 08:51 AM

Use of a bosal needs training for both the rider and the horse. If your horse has never used one, and apparently you haven't either, I would avoid it until you can get someone to train the two of you.

My trail horse, Bonnie, only goes in a bosal but she is 15 and has been in one for a whole lot of years.

katbalu 05-18-2012 08:56 AM

"equivalent of allowing novice riders or young horses to ride in a snaffle/with two hands"

Ack! What do you mean by that?
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smrobs 05-18-2012 12:10 PM

I agree completely with Iride. A bosal is not a tool to be used lightly or without proper education. It is really easy to either skin up a horse's face or teach them to brace against it and ignore the cues if you don't know how to use it properly.

If you truly want to learn how to use a bosal, then you'll need to find a trainer who is well versed in the proper usage to teach both you and your horse.

Kat, what RSS meant is that the bosal is basically on the same level as a snaffle bit in the grand scheme of training. They are both designed to be used before the shanked bit on young horses. They are both used with 2 hands and, while you can neck rein in them on a well-broke horse, that's not what they are designed for.

katbalu 05-18-2012 12:24 PM

I ride in a snaffle with 2 hands right now :)
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RunSlideStop 05-18-2012 01:27 PM

smrobs, thanks for clarifying for me. I do indeed mean that in the grand scheme, according to the traditional use of the bosal, it is for a younger, more inexperienced horse.

Agreed as well that the bosal is not to be used by a novice (apologies if my commentary was misleading in that way). The bosal is a very delicate tool to be used by someone properly trained.

As a side note, just my personal opinion; this is why I can't stand to watch peanut rollers be ridden in a bosal. It is essentially riding them without contact in that lovely, forehand/heavy, creepily slow WP or Trail way. In training, it is dangerous to use the leverage of a bosal to pull a horse's gate back into the ever-present 4 beat lope, or sleep-walking jog. As smrobs said, it is easy to skin their face up if used improperly.

Also, a good hanger doesn't interfere with the horse's eyeballs... :) ha!



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