KBR Horse Training Information

Exercising Body AND Mind

Mecate Reins

When training horses, doing stock work and even outback trail riding, it's nice to have a rein setup which can function both as a rein and as a lead / tie rope. The mecate rein serves this purpose well.

The original mecate was a horsehair rein, stiff and difficult to break in. A modern mecate can be made from 5/8" marine grade kernmantle braid rope. (The boat folks call it "Sampson line.") The lengths should be sufficient to make a comfortable rein and still leave 12 to 15 feet of running line for the lead.

Here's how the mecate is formed.

Leather "slobber straps" are passed through the bit rings. These are well oiled leather fobs, about 10 - 12 inches long before being folded in half around the bit rings. There are holes cut in the ends just wide enough to pass the rope through. The rein is secured with a simple overhand knot on the horse's right side, with the other side passing through the other slobber strap, secured with an overhand knot with the tail running free.

(Please note that this photo view is looking from what would be the front of the horse, so "left" and "right" are oriented in reverse.)

When working from the ground, the mecate can be used like a longe line.

If using the mecate to tie, form a loop under the jaw around the rein leads with the running lead to minimize "pull" on the bit.

While riding, a small loop can be formed in the running end of the rein which can be passed through, but not tied to, the rider's belt. On horseback, the end can be used as a romal. When the rider dismounts, (s)he can easily pull the rope and handle the horse. This feature is particularly useful in situations where it is safer or more appropriate to dismount and correct saddle problems by providing ground work as an alternative (Learn-Learn training).

Finally, the weight of the rein seems quite conducive to teaching the horse to neck rein, with most guidance being provided through the leg and seat while laying the rein against the neck, and perhaps a slight suggestion using a light pull with the outside "direct" rein as needed to reinforce the aid.

(If you don't have a mecate rig you can produce a similar effect by leaving a light weight rope halter on the horse under the bridle and attaching a 12 to 15 foot lead to the halter.)

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