Traditional Mecate reins (pronounced either muh-caw-tee or McCarty) are traditionally made from horse mane hair or tail hair, but are also made from other fibers such as alpaca, mohair, yak, and nylon 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 knot at the other end of the rope (from the popper) which has the cluster of horse hair or 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 prefer to wrap the end around the saddle horn for easier access
The "5 Bar Homestead" located on the Owyhee River where our family Mecate Artisan legacy started with Great Grandma Clara. Approx. 75 miles South of Jordan Valley, Oregon.
History of the Bosal/Hackamore The Mecate Reins are fast becoming the Rage of the Sage because they are so versatile.... The Mecate is the rein portion of the horse tack. The Hackamore is a type of headgear for horse training. The unique part of the Hackamore is that it does not have a bit. It uses a braided noseband called a Bosal. The Bosal is a special type of noseband that works on pressure points on the horse's face, nose, and chin. The Mecate is a rope made from horse hair or soft feeling rope that serves as reins and lead rope. The history of the Hackamore and Mecate goes all the way back to 4,000 BC. The first Hackamore was probably a piece of rope placed around the nose or head of a horse not long after domestication. These early devices for controlling horses may have been adapted from equipment used to control Camels. Over time, this means of controlling a horse became more sophisticated. The Persians in 500 BC were one of the first to use a thick plaited noseband to help the horse look and move in the same direction. This was called a Hakma. On this Hakma was a third rein added at the nose, which allowed the rider to achieve more power from the horse. Later this third rein moved from the top of the noseband to under the chin, where it is still part of the modern Bosal style Hackamore with Mecate reins. The Hackamore used in the United States came from the Spanish Vaqueros in California. From this, the American Cowboy adopted two different uses, the "Buckaroo" tradition closely resembling that of the original Vaqueros and the "Texas" tradition which blended some Spanish techniques with methods from the eastern states. These types of Hackamores include the Bosal and side pull. The Bosal Hackamore uses the Vaqueros tradition of the braided noseband and the Mecate rope. The Mecate is tied to the Bosal in a specialized manner that adjusts the fit of the Bosal around the muzzle of the horse and creates both a looped rein and a long free end that can be used for a number of purposes. For the mounted rider, the free end is coiled and attached to the saddle or tucked under your belt. When the rider dismounts, the lead rein is not used to tie the horse to a solid object but used as a lead rope and a form of lunge line when needed. The traditional Mecate used by the California Vaqueros was made from the long hair of a horse's tail and was hand braided. Modern Mecates are made with horse hair and synthetic rope with a horse hair tassel at one end and a leather popper at the other end. A properly tied Mecate knot allows wraps of rope to be added to the knot in front of the rein loop in order to tighten the Bosal noseband on a horse or the rope can be unwrapped to loosen the Bosal. This Vaquero style of Hackamore is used in Western Riding and is an indispensable part of the Vaquero way of making a California reined horse. It is also used with horses that have dental issues, where a bit would be painful. Some riders also like to use this style of Hackamore in the winter instead of a frozen metal bit.
This is the two room log cabin at the "5 Bar Homestead" (in the picture above), where my Grandmas were raised and made Mecates.
The cabin had a rock building joining it with two rooms and a willow porch off of the kitchen. The rock portion was built in the 1900's by the Lovelands, and the log portion was built in 1912 by the Drummonds.
Part of this Homestead is still there.