Western Bitting and Bosals

Hey guys, how was everyone’s Thanksgiving?  Did you miss me?  Did you even notice I was gone?  I just finished up the last piece of pumpkin pie today.  Apparently it was still good, although I smothered it with enough Cool Whip to cover up any suspicious flavor.

To try to kick us back into gear I want to touch on a discipline that I don’t think has gotten a whole lot of attention here in the past (or maybe my Turkey coma hasn’t completely worn off yet so I just don’t remember).  I had someone ask the other day about Bosals in western classes.  I don’t know that they had something in particular in mind, but I’m guessing the apparent lack of them in Morgandom.  Any western riders (or observers) out there have thoughts on this?

I’m also not sure on this, but I remember hearing somewhere along the line that Hackamores/Bosals and Snaffles are only allowed on Jr western horses, and once a horse has shown in a curb they can’t go back.  Anyone have a better understanding/description of the rules?

11 Responses to Western Bitting and Bosals

  1. empressive says:

    I love my Western Morgans in a bosal or hackamore. That’s my personal fav. I have not heard of a curbed Morgan not being allowed to in the Jr. Western classes. I think that is kind of silly and defeats the purpose of having a horse that can enter multiple classes. Sounds like it would hurt the show more than anything. Would love to hear others chime in though.

    LOL I think I still have some Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake left in the fridge too!

  2. Vintage_Rider says:

    Bosal and snaffle are only allowed in Junior Horse classes, though you may use a curb in Junior as well.

  3. RaeOfLight says:

    What’s the logic with only allowing Bosals on Jr horses?

  4. leslie says:

    I’m pretty sure the rule follows the standard of AQHA rules. The explanation I’ve been given is pretty similar to the one we hear from the double bridle advocates: the curb gives more refinement. The curb is considered the advanced bit. It doesn’t make much sense, but you can’t show a saddle seat horse without a curb, either, for no good reason. Rules is rules, whether they’re logical or not.

    It is weird to me that you have to have a curb for western pleasure once your horse turns five, but you can go win the NRHA futurity without any tack on your horse at all. I know they’re completely different disciplines, but surely reining requires at least as much refinement as pleasure.

  5. RaeOfLight says:

    I wish they’d allow Bosals on all Western horses. It would be a nice way to add some variety I think.

  6. morganfarm1 says:

    They say the curb bit is an advanced bit. I agree….but doesn’t it take an advanced horse to hold a headset and be completely controlable in nothing but a bosal. I think the horse that goes in a bosal is far more advanced in training and shows the true relationship and trust between horse and rider.

  7. morganfarm1 says:

    ooops wanted to add…
    does it say anywhere in the rule book that it is not allowed or that the Morgan is to follow the AQHA guidelines? If so is this the only guideline we r to follow from the QH’s?

  8. leslie says:

    No, it’s not written that our western pleasure rules follow AQHA, it’s just sort of a convention. They lead the way on western sports, and other breeds follow (to an extent).

    The USEF rule book does specify that snaffles and bosals are only allowed for jr. horses, though. If you want to see how it’s written, the rule book is available for free online to anyone, even if you’re not a USEF member. http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/RuleBook/2011.aspx

  9. elkhorncreek says:

    A couple of points regarding the above discussion…The western division rules in the USEF rule book were written in 1951. From 1965-1973, Quarter Horses were part of USEF (AHSA at that time) then parted ways. While they do mirror one another in many aspects…USEF had the first set of Western Rules. If you are showing at a USEF event, depending upon the type of competition it is, there are Morgan western rules and then some refer out to the Western Division section of the USEF rule book where you will find Trail, Western Riding, Working Cowhorse, Pleasure, ect. Western Eq is in the Equitation Division chapter and Reining also has it’s own chapter when it became recognized by the FEI.
    It used to be that once a junior horse moved into a curb, they couldn’t go back in the show ring in a snaffle/bosal. That rule changed several years ago and they can switch back and forth now. Remember, these are the training years on a horse so we need keep that in mind. Another topic that has surfaced over the past few years is increasing the age of the Morgan Junior Western horse to 5yo, but that would require a USEF Rule Change Proposal and rule forum discussion.

    The NRHA Futurity horses may only be shown in a curb bit.

    There are so many viewpoints and I think this is a great discussion topic. We have somewhat lost the art of developing what the Californians termed “bridle horse.” Simply meaning a horse with self-carriage and working in the bridle. Nowadays, it comes down to how society has developed…hurried. A bridle horse cannot be developed in 60 days or even a year. It takes time, patience and understanding what a particular individual needs and when.
    I did show my 3yo in a bosal…because that is what she was happy with at that time. She was started in a snaffle, but with caps shedding and mouth developing, I switched her to a bosal because she became uncomfortable and frustrated with the snaffle. In the bosal, we gained more self-carriage and could do more training because she was quiet and focused…not worried about what was in her mouth at that time. About 6 weeks after GN, I put her in a little sweetwater curb and she loves it and is accepting of it. Doesn’t care for the snaffle anymore. Other horses may stay in a snaffle for a while and others can move right into the curb. Again…just depends on the individual.
    One challenge we have with our Morgans is the shallow pallet and their slow maturity rate compared to some other breeds. It is tough to sometimes find a curb that truly fits in their mouth and they are comfortable with and can manage.
    I believe with the concept of Western Dressage catching on with all breeds, we will start to see more horses that have self-carriage, proper western gaits and a sensitive yet responsive, quiet mouth….a bridle horse. It takes a great deal of time and patience to have a truly finished western horse.

  10. Vintage_Rider says:

    Excellent post Elkhorn. Maybe, along the same topic, someone can tell me why you can’t buy a western curb in anything larger than a 5″ mouth? There are a million different kinds, but nothing larger than a 5″. My mare had the typical delicate muzzle, but had a substantial jowl, and curbs, with the western upper shanks, dug her cheeks into her teeth. I had one made, which she hated, then through her original breeder, whose father was the same way, was able to gift me his “special” western bit. Just askin’

  11. leslie says:

    “The NRHA Futurity horses may only be shown in a curb bit.”

    Oops. I was thinking of freestyle, not futurity.

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