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What Is A Horse Headstall? - Page 2 of 2

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Attaching The Bit To The Headstall

There are almost as many ways to attach a bit (or bosal, nose piece, etc.) to a horse headstall as there are headstalls. In the text and photos below we'll take a closer look at two common methods, Chicago screws and leather strings.

Chicago Screws

Chicago screws are a type of screw used for a wide variety of purposes. They are extremely popular in the horse industry to attach a headstall to a bit (or bosal, nose piece, etc.). Chicago screws have two pieces, the head with a threaded post on the back, and the screw. To attach the headstall to the bit (or whatever), the bit is placed inside the ends of the cheek pieces, then the post on the back of the head is inserted through a hole on the outside of the cheek piece while the screw is inserted through a hole on the inside. Then the screw is screwed into the post on the back of the head.

Below: A Chicago screw attaching a bit to a headstall.

A horse headstall with Chicago screws

Chicago screws come in a wide variety of styles. Not only can the heads be large or small or fancy or plain, the screws come come in a variety of lengths.

Below are close-up photos of a Chicago screw. The first photo shows the head of the Chicago screw right-side up. The head is about about the size of a quarter and is decorated with a steer's head and a border. The second photo shows head of the screw upside down. The screw, visible to the right of the head in both photos, is about a quarter of an inch long.

Below: A Chicago screw: The head (on the left) and the screw (on the right).

A Chicago screw

Below: The same Chicago screw as show above, this time with the head upside down.

The back of a Chicago screw

In order to attach a bit to a headstall securely Chicago screws need to have a post and screw that are long enough to reach through the cheek pieces of the headstall and screw securely into one another, but no longer.

Chicago Screws Pros And Cons

When it comes to attaching a bit (or bosal, nose piece, etc.) to a headstall every method has its pros and cons. With Chicago screws, the pros include simple attachment, a wide variety of choices in style, design and price, and wide availability. The biggest con with Chicago screws is that they can come unscrewed without being detected, possibly allowing the headstall to detach from the bit without warning during a ride. If you use Chicago screws with your headstall, here are some tips:

Leather Strings

Leather strings are also very popular for attaching a horse headstall to a bit (or bosal, nose piece, etc.). To attach the headstall to the bit (or whatever), the bit is placed inside the ends of the cheek pieces, a leather string is pushed through small holes in the cheek pieces from the inside out, and the strings are tied on the outside. Since leather strings don't slide easily against themselves, a simple overhand knot pulled tight is usually all that is necessary.

Leather Strings Pros And Cons

The pros of using leather strings are simple attachment, inexpensive replacement, and wide availability. The biggest con is probably that many riders don't check the strings very often and they can become dangerously worn or weather damaged and prone to breakage unless they are replaced.

This headstall uses leather strings to attach a bit

If you use leather strings with your headstall, here are some tips:

Horse Headstalls (you are on page 2 of 2)

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Horse Tips

  • Horse Tips
    Short tips to help horse owners and anyone who lives or loves a Western lifestyle do something faster, easier, or better.


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