The Hackamore (Bosal/Mecate)

The true hackamore derives from the California style of horsemanship. (Which in itself traces all the way back to Spain then on back to the Middle East) It makes use of a bosal, hanger and mecate. The bosal is usually made of braided rawhide over a twisted rawhide core. The braid may be 8 to16 plaits (or more for collector items) of high quality rawhide. There will be a long “braided button” over the part of the bosal that goes on the nose. Two small “buttons’ on either side of the jaw keep your hunger in place. This all comes together at the bottom of the bosal where the two ends meet in typically a heel knot. This helps the bosal to hang correctly when on the horse as well as providing a base for your mecate (reins, lead rope). As a horse advances the thickness of the bosal is changed from 5/8” all the way down to 3/8 inch. As the horse progresses, some trainers switch from braided rawhide to braided leather, which is more supple. (Or rawhide over a rope core) In the end, the horse is headed towards wearing a bosalito under a bridle. (This can be about ¼ in. to 3/8 in. thick and is to honor a horse that is at the finishing stages)

Mecate (americanzed-mecate) basically is Spanish for rope on your hackamore (bosal). They can be as thick as 5/8 in or thin as ¼ in. The rule of thumb traditionally has been the same size as your bosal or one size smaller. They range typically from 18 to 22 feet long. I’ve seen several things, from parachute cord, cotton rope to the traditional horsehair. (main hair mecates are a lot softer and more supple than tail hair) There are various ways of tying the mecate with some trainers preferring one over another. Basically, you take a few wraps then pull your reins through a few more wraps (the number of wraps depends on size of horses jaw). Tie the end through and four left with a lead rope.

The hanger is traditionally a piece of latigo leather about ¼ in wide that is fastened to the bosal by making a slit and pulling the leather through itself. Its tied much the same way as a rope halter. Nothing fancy.

This piece of equipment the hackamore, had fallen under the radar for quite a while it seemed like. Due to the influences of some of the clinicians, it is making a comeback. It is a very valuable tool in the horseman’s arsenal even though it can take years to master. Riding a horse in the hackamore has truly been a joy to me.

For questions or more information on the Hackamore (Bosal/Mecate), please contact us.

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