Mecate reins are a handy tool to have in your tack arsenal, as they function both as reins as well as a lead and tie rope. Though traditionally made of horse hair, you can easily (and affordably) make your own mecate reins from yachting rope.

Step 1

Gather your supplies. You’ll need:

• 22–24 feet of 1/2–1/8-inch double-braid polyester yachting rope

• Two slobber straps

• Headstall with snaffle bit

• Measuring tape

• Lighter (not shown)

Step 2

If the ends of your rope aren’t already sealed, carefully burn them with a lighter so that they don’t unravel and fray. A few passes with the lighter should do it. If you’d like, thread a leather popper through what will be the lead end of the rope.

Step 3

With the finished side of the slobber straps facing out, fold the straps over the rings of the snaffle bit. Any tooling or decoration should be facing the outside. The chin strap should be attached to the rings of the bit so that it is between the slobber straps and the bars of the bit.

Step 4

Tie a half hitch around the right slobber strap. First, thread one end of the rope through the strap’s holes, inside to outside. Then, bring the end of the rope counter-clockwise around the strap, back to front. Finally, bring the end of the rope through the loop so that the end points down

Step 5

Starting from where the rope is attached to the right slobber strap, measure between 8 and 10 feet of rein. Mark this point with chalk or take mental note, and thread the loose end of the rope through the left slobber strap (from inside to outside hole, as you did with the right slobber strap) until this point. Tie a half hitch around the left slobber strap (yep, you’ll be pulling a long tail of rope through if you’re doing it correctly) This leaves you with a 10–12-foot lead. While you ride, the the excess rope can be affixed to your saddle with saddle strings or looped—never tied!—to your belt. 

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