A mecate is a rein made of a single piece of rope, usually twisted horse hair or nylon (see photo). It is used on hackamores and snaffles and is attached in a specific manner to each. The knot used to attach the mecate to a hackamore is also used to adjust the size of the hackamore noseband by taking more or less wraps of the mecate around the base of the noseband just in front of the heel knot. Mecates are attached to snaffle bits with slobber straps.
Once attached properly to either a hackamore or a snaffle the mecate has both a looped rein and a length used as a lead rope. The rider uses 2 hands to direct rein the horse with the looped rein. When a rider is mounted, the lead is coiled and attached to the saddle or run through a belt loop. When the rider dismounts, the lead is used to lead but not tie the horse.
Mecates are made in 22 and 24 foot lengths in diameters ranging from 3/8 to 3/4 inch. The diameter used is determined by the stage of training and size of hackamore being used. The larger diameters are used on green horses and smaller diameters on more advanced horses. The 3/8 inch mecate is generally used only with the bosalita in the 2 rein outfit.
Quality horse hair mecates are made with mane hair only and not with tail hair of either horses or cattle because it is too stiff. The mane hair stays soft and pliable and lays close to the neck of the horse without the prickly feel of tail hair. Nylon mecates also stay soft and pliable and are especially good on sensitive horses. Both types hang gracefully from the riders hands and feel good in the hands.
Mecate use in the North American west was introduced by the Spanish vaqueros in the late 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. The Spanish vaqueros taught the early Californians their training techniques including the use of the mecate.
Dennis Moreland Tack produces both mane hair and nylon mecates in various sizes. To find out more about our mecates call 817-312-5305 or visit: http://www.dmtack.com/pcategory/reins/mecates/