Traditional Mecate reins (pronounced either muh-caw-tee or McCarty) are made from horse hair, but can also be made from nylon double braid marine rope. These reins are normally between 20-22 feet long. Don’t worry, you won’t have to figure out what to do with an extra 15 feet of rein. Approximately 8-10 feet are used for the rein and the remaining 10-12 feet are used as a lead rope or popper when in the saddle. The mota is the thing at the other end of the rope (from the popper) which has the knot or cluster of horse hair and tassle on it.
Mecate reins are meant to be used with slobber straps and bits with a 3" ring (you need room for the headstall and slobber straps). The slobber straps protect the mecate and help provide a quick release (feel) for training. When riding, we usually put the end through our belt/ belt loop or tuck it into the waist of our pants. Some people prefer to wrap the end around the saddle horn for easier access. This is really a personal preference kind of thing.
We prefer the horse hair mecate for a number of reasons:
The horse responds to the feel of the horse hair on their neck much better than nylon.
They look really good on our horses.
But, marine grade rope has it’s advantages too:
Feel on your hands. Horse hair takes some time to get used to.
Price. Horse hair mecates are hand made – which adds to the cost.
Mecate’s are an excellent training device. Here’s why we like them:
The weight of the reins with the slobber straps provides an instant release when working with a horse. The release is the reward that the horse is seeking when you ask for something.
You can teach a horse to neck rein significantly faster with horse hair mecate reins than with traditional reins.
You can use the popper to make a correction while in the saddle without having to go for your progress string.
When trail riding, you can use the lead to tie your horse safely. You can’t do this with any other headstall, rein, bit combination that we know of.
When schooling your horse, if you want to get off and make a correction or longe your horse – you have the lead rope attached and you are ready to go.
When working other horses from your horse you can use the lead to yield the other horse.