Bosal size
Measuring bosal 2
Nose buttons
Cut bosal3-2
Nerve buttons
Heel knots
Western tack bosal shaper
(Bozal - (boh-sahl) from the Spanish meaning; muzzle or halter

The bosal is a braided rawhide noseband and in the following section we outline some of the design features and their purpose. The term 'Bosal' is used both as part of the hackamore rig or independently when the noseband is ridden under a bridle.

Bosal -Sizing (based on size of cheeks/bars).

(See image from left to right)

  • 3/4” - for starting and potentially larger horses
  • 5/8” - for starting horses and for duration until light and responsive and ready to transition
  • 1/2” - further refinement from 5/8"
  • 3/8” - transition into the two rein
  • 1/4” - transition into the two rein

N.B it may be a case owners may wish to ride in a 1/2" or 3/8" not under bridle if their horse is light and it suits both parties


The internal depth (A) of the bosal can range from 10” to 12+", however the average depth is around 11” - 11.5”. The width (B) will also vary from 5" - 6" pre shaping. Significant adjustment is possible with the use of a shaper and the wrapping of the mecate. Some horses may require a bosal with longer cheeks and even a wider nose button due to the make up of their profile e.g. deep jawline and breadth of muzzle. The button sits across the nose of the horse, displacing its weight evenly and rolling when a contact is taken. It consists of a higher number of plaits than the cheeks over a rawhide core, lengths vary from (C) 5”, 6.5" to 7”.




5/8" (Extra Deep)12"-12.5"5"-6"6"-6.5"
5/8" (Standard)11"-11.5"5"-6"6"-6.5"

Number of Plaits

It is often suggested that a higher number of plaits compromises the integrity and longevity of the bosal as opposed to the lower plait cowhide bosals. It is worth taking into consideration there are examples of braided horse tack in South America which pre-date the arrival of the Conquistadors! The unforeseen disruptive behaviour of a horse can always damage your gear whatever it is made from. Having ridden for many years in a temperate climate and started and worked horses with both types of bosals, I have never experienced any compromise in the performance of either a finely braided goat hide or cowhide bosal whether a 3/8", 1/2" or a 5/8". As every horseman should, looking after your tack is fundamental; allowing to dry naturally, treat and then re-wrapping your mecate are key. The high braided bosals we offer originate in South America and are braided from goat hide. The nature of the rawhide and the braiders sheer expertise allow them to cut and braid the hide into narrower strands, thus lending itself to a finer smoother bosal, this is not a compromise in performance but purely a manifestation of their cultural heritage and their braiding technique. Therefore a bevelled edge is not required and cupping does not occur and the intricate, smooth finish is maintained. Bosals which have a lower number of plaits whether that goat, cowhide are bevelled to prevent cupping. We offer a range of goat and cowhide bosals from North and South America all of which will become a reliable friend for many years to come!

Nose button /Nose Band

The length of the nose button will determine the position of the hanger/headstall. With a shorter nose button the hanger/headstall will be further up the side of the horses face thus increasing the speed of release (fall of the heel knot). In this position it may also intercept the eye line, a latigo/cord is then used to pull the hanger downwards. A longer nose button creates a lower pivot point which results in the hanger being more centralised and a slightly slower release. The speed of release is not only determined by point of balance but also the weight above the heel knot due to size and number of Mecate wraps, the potential inclusion and correct adjustment of the Fiador, the weight of the heel knot and your own feel.

    Nose buttons vary in their section, some are more bulbous, others more uniformed, there are bosals with a more acute internal radius and those with a wider spread and even those with a flatter centre section. What you want to achieve is a curvature that fits the profile of the horse and equally displaces the weight and movement. If space appears under the nose button it suggests that the bosal is resting on particular points (at either end of the nose button), therefore shaping is required, the bigger nose button the more difficult it can be to shape. The bosals in image show the slight reduction in button size as the bosal reduces in size down to a 1/4".

    Cheeks/Bars and their rawhide core

    The bars may either have a braided or twisted rawhide core. The length of the bars will vary and sometimes a bosal with longer cheeks will be required due the horses profile, however it is fair to say a 5/8" bosal with 11-11.5" inner depth will fit a broad range of cold and warm bloods. In the pictures the inner 4 strand braided core can be seen with an outer twisted sheath of rawhide providing the base for the braid.

    Side/Nerve Buttons

    These are the 2 small buttons which are at the end of the nose button on each side. The top button is frequently integrated into the nose button with the button beneath being separate. The space between these buttons is where the latigo or headstall is secured. As well as support they provide a contact point on the horses nose.

    Heel Knot & Plug/Spacer

    The heel knot acts as a counter balance to the nose button and provides the stopping point for the mecate reins. There are different shapes of heel knot depending on the braiders preference including the pineapple and the more elongated pear profile. Dependent on the design of the bosal, a gap may be visible above the heel knot and between the bars, this is sometimes referred to as the “plug or spacer”.


    These are the coloured rawhide strands (e.g. red, black, tan, natural) which create a decorative pattern, they may appear on any part of the bosal including nose button, cheeks or its entirety.

    Shaping the bosal - Bosal - Flex

    The flex of the bosal is determined by a variety of criteria including; a. type of hide and preparation, b. braided rawhide or twisted rawhide core, c. braiding technique. A bosal needs to be able to have a memory and spring back after it has been flexed, thus communicating a clear signal; the contact (pressure) and the release.

    The correct way to shape our bosals is through the natural give in the material over a period of time instead of instantly pulling the bosal into shape (similar to using shoe trees). This retains the integrity of the bosal creating memory in the core/braid . A wooden forma (see formas) with a radius top and bottom can be used to create the radius in the nose button and the splay in the bottom of the bars . We have fitted hackamores to various breeds of horses from, Quarter horses, Trakehners, Arabs, Draught horses to Gypsy Cobs