Where’s the bit? Part I – The ‘bosal’

Lindsay Rausch’s series on bitless bridles kicks off with an introduction to the bosal.

From Lindsay:

When I was a kid I always wanted to be able to ride bitless. When putting a bridle, even one with a simple snaffle bit, I felt bad thinking about how I would feel if someone put a piece of metal in my mouth and used it to tell me where to go. Time has passed and now that I am close to getting my own horses this goal has reentered my mind.

Growing up I thought that the only options were the “bosal” and “jumping hackamore.” I have since buried myself in research to learn more, and in that time I have discovered that there are so many more options than I ever could have imagined. My goal in this series is to discuss as many different varieties as possible as well as some of the rules about their use. The bitless movement is much more prevalent in Europe where bitless bridles are growing in popularity.

The bosal may be one of the best known bitless options. The bosal refers to the noseband itself, but the term is often used to describe the entire piece of tack. The noseband for a bosal is usually braided rawhide attached to a hanger that runs over the poll. The reins and combined lead rope (mecate) are attached to a fiadore knot behind the horses chin.


The bosal. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Some bosals also include a throatlatch (fiador) and browband. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The point of control for the bosal is across the thin skin of the nose. In rough hands the rawhide can be very abrasive on the horses nose can cause nerve damage.

With young horses there is a variant of the bosal wherein a rope halter is used, with the reins again attached to the fiadore knot behind the chin. This eases the transition between halter and bridle when it comes time to start the horse under saddle.


Photo: horsegroomingsupplies.com

The big key with the bosal or rope halter variant is that the noseband must be properly sized to not put additional pressure on the nose, or be too high or low on the nose.

[Western Horseman]

If you enjoyed this article stay tuned for the next installment on the mechanical hackamore.

Go Riding!

Lindsay Rausch learned to ride at a young age from her mom who had been a trainer and horsemanship instructor in a previous life. Lindsay has always been a western trail rider, and even though she has not owned a horse of her own she has always looked for any chance to get a leg in the saddle. She is currently setting up a 10-acre farm for cattle and horses. Lindsay would love to hear questions that readers have about the western world that she could research for the Horse Nation.


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