Bosal v. loping hackamore

Exploring bitless options for my Highland. He works okay in a mechanical hack (they are easy to get in the UK), but it doesn’t have as much finesse as I remember bosals having. I rode my mare in a bosal many years ago, but when I had to triage things for my move to the UK, that did not make it. I can’t remember why. Bummer.

I think it might suit him, but I’m reluctant to spend big bucks on something until I know. Are there any solid mid-range bosals that you can recommend? Just the noseband and the mecate. He has a headstall that should work, and he’s tricky to fit. My options in the UK are limited, but I still have friends in the States who can send something on if need be.

While digging around the internet, I discovered the loping hackamore. I had never come across this before, but it’s intriguing. Kind of a cross between a bosal and sidepull in its action? It might also suit him, maybe better, but I have no idea which ones I should look at. As I said, he’s a tricky fit for headstalls. He has a very wide but very short head.

Stuck this in the trail endurance section because it will primarily be used on trails, some of which are long and fairly technical.

In my experience, a loping hackamore and a bosal hackamore are very similar in action, because of the pressures they apply and how the reins attach. They tend to operate more like a leverage bit actually, but are meant to be used 2 handed and never pulling, only bumping. I think the biggest difference is material used, which can result in slightly different mechanics.

For the most part, when you engage the right rein, the left side of the bosal/loping hack pushes on the nose and jaw and opens the right side. When you engage the left rein, the right side pushes on the nose and jaw, and opens the left side.

In my experience, I see a lot of loping hacks made from lariat rope, and yacht rope. Lariat rope is super abrasive and extremely stiff. I wouldn’t use one made from lariat rope. But I would use one made from yacht rope as it’s more forgiving. A lariat rope loping hack will act more like a bosal hack because it’s super stiff, and will rotate a little on the horse’s face when one rein is engaged. A yacht rope loping hack will have less abrasion and rotation because it’s softer.

A bosal hack should be made from a high quality rawhide core, with quality leather/rawhide wrapping. Anything less will be subpar and really not worth your money. A good bosal hack will last you for decades long if you care for it.

Either way you go, I would think you’d be fine. But as with any new equipment to the horse, make sure you due your due diligence to ensure fit and training with it before testing it out on any black diamond trails.

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These are examples of what’s available in the UK:®-bosal

There are a few others along similar lines. Of course, once you start looking at US sites, the possibilities are endless.

When I bought my last one, I went into the tack shop (in Colorado) and handled it. None of this internet nonsense. But suppliers of Western tack are few and far between here. Really feel like an idiot for not keeping it. 23-year old me wasn’t very smart.

Admittedly, I’m a tack snob and even more so when it comes to hackamores- in the true sense, bosal, hanger and mcCarty reins.
If you’re not willing to spend a couple hundred dollars on a bosal, don’t. Especially if you’re looking for finesse. You won’t get the finesse from a $40 bosal and feed store reins. Even shaping a $250 Steve Guitron bosal (a decent entry level bosal) to fit a horse correctly is tough.

The hackamore should be ridden in a thin hanger, the signal is not hindered by a thin latigo hanger as it is with a full browband headstall setup. The latigo hanger let’s the bosal easily drop down to its resting spot and is easily picked up by not having a thick headstall interfering. But with that said, the bigger, thicker bosals are used with a browband headstall and a fiador to stabilize as the horse is learning in the beggining stages.
As the horse progresses to a smaller softer bosal, the headstall is swapped out for the hanger.
For your hard to fit horse the hanger may be ideal and a simple adjustment of using a string tied to each side and run under the jowls to keep it free from the eyes. It’s a common issue as most well balanced bosals have a shorter nose button that causes this. A long nose button is seen a lot on cheap bosals and not well balanced because of this reason.

I like loping hackamores and was made to use them loping cutting horses early in my career. Most the ones we used were made of sisal/ grass rope then the nose may have been braided over with rawhide or wrapped with vet wrap. For the most part it was for us kids loping to stay out of the horses mouth.
Someone on this forum said they were originally used to start colts but we never did. To me the loping hackamore is just a step from riding in a rope halter. Not saying you can’t get finesse but not like you can with a good hackamore setup if you want to spend the money and know how to use it.
Another thing, most loping hackamores, or at least the ones I’ve used, come with a browband headstall fiador setup, might consider that when ordering as you say you have a tough to fit horse.
I do see the loping hackamores made from burnt up ropes for the nose band then a simple hanger and some nylon rope for reins. Never ridden in one. The cutting horse trainer I currently work for has a few but again he reserves for the green lopers that come to work and he doesn’t want them hanging on their mouth until he gets them broke of it.

Overall, if you don’t want to spend more than $200 get a good loping hackamore. If you got money to burn I can make suggestions on braiders and hair twisters for a quality bosal and mcCarty.


I’ll take any suggestions, for sure.

I’m not a tack snob. However, lots of us were puntering around in bosals in Colorado and having a nice time. Nobody was trying to make a bridle horse or a cow horse. I think they just gave a softer feel and more lightness than sidepulls, scawbrigs, English hack, etc. And given that sourcing any bosal is mega-faff, I would rather find one that will do the job for a while. Some playing in the school and having a good time on the trail. Don’t like cows, so won’t be chasing any (that said, my other horse is a PRE so she may be cowy, but using horses to move cows isn’t a thing here).

It’s got to be a compromise between price, quality, and the faff of getting it here.

Fair enough, I get it!
That’s why I said, I’m a snob and as you mentioned I’m about making cowhorses.

Give me a couple of days if I don’t get back to you with in the day- I’ll make you a list of some options to consider here in the US if you have friend that could ship to you.

Cool. A couple friends have offered, so shipping is available.

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