The Mecate

Mecates can either be hand or machine twisted with an average length of 22ft (although longer mecates exist up to 30ft). On one end of the mecate is either a braided, hitched or Turks head knot and on the other a leather popper. The length of the mecate allows you to create single looped reins incorporating a single small coil in one hand to increase slack when required and a length to serve as the lead/get down rope which can be tied to the horn, looped in your belt or tied to a saddle latigo.

The mecate normally corresponds to the same size of bosal you are using; 5/8” mecate to a 5/8” bosal, 3/8” mecate to a 3/8” bosal, 1/4” mecate to a 1/4” bosalito (pencil bosal). Matching the diameter and bar size help ensure that the weight corresponds with that of the bosal. This will have a direct impact as to the speed of release of the bosal and the sense of feel that that you receive through the reins from either a lighter bosalito or heavier 5/8” bosal. This is not mandatory and for some equestrians in particular women, a 5/8” mecate is just too much in the hand, especially if their roots are in a more Classical English form of equitation. Therefore a ½” can be used on a 5/8” bosal and additional wraps can be used to compensate for the lighter mecate achieve the balance. If you are conducting any other form of activity, whether its roping, tent pegging you may find a reduction in the diameter of your reins preferable.

Types of Mecate

The weight of the mecate can vary even if the diameter is the same, this can be due to the fineness/coarseness of the fibres, number of strands or the tightness /density of the core. All our mecates have a twisted core and are firm with plenty of life, to help transmit the feel. This tightness which is felt in new ropes and reins will slightly dissipate the more they are used. The strands of a good mecate should remain tightly twisted and not spread apart. Depending on where your horse is in its training will determine your choice of mecate . Different fibres respond in different ways Alpaca has softness without prickliness and therefore is better on a horse that may already be used to rein pressure, it is less stiff than horse hair in the wet and more uniformed in its profile and exceptionally durable. Yak and horse hair are similar and depending on the quality of these the softness, weight and twist will vary. Average weight of our 5/8” 8 strand horse hair and alpaca mecates is 1000g and for ½” 700g. (see products). We do not supply yacht rope reins although frequently used as a substitute for traditional horse or yak hair mecates. They are very much an all-weather product which can be easily maintained but lack the life that comes with the body and lay of a traditional twisted hair mecate.

On purchasing a new mecate we suggest hanging in long lengths to allow some of the tension to ease out of it, due to the fact it may have been coiled for some time.

Mecate characteristics

  • 8 strand weave
  • 6 strand weave
  • Made from Horse Hair (mane hair softer than tail)
  • Mohair, Yak,
  • Alpaca (Soft feel in multiple colours, with natural dye)
  • Finished with raw hide, hitched knots, turks head and leather poppers
  • Single and blended colours including; black, white, sorrel, chestnut, buckskin, grey
  • Diameters: 5/8”, ½”,3/8”
Wrapping your Mecate

When wrapping the mecate do not over tighten around the bosal. The higher the position of the loop rein above the heel knot results in increased lateral movement whilst the lower the loop rein, closer to the heel knot results in greater vertical flexion from the poll. If a horse has a smaller jaw and the bosal appears too large then the cheeks can be shaped accordingly and the mecate used to reduce this depth. There should always be space between the mecate top wrap and the underside of the horse’s jaw. If this is in close contact it impedes the release and sends a mixed signal to the horse.

The lead rope may also vary in position and can either extend from the front, rear or side of the bosal. The number of mecate wraps will also greatly influence the speed of release of the bosal, increased wraps equal more weight. If a bosal has a plug, then the knot of the mecate can be placed through this. If a bosal does not have a plug and the bars enter the heel knot in a flush fork position then an alternative is to make one wrap around the base of the forks and then place the knot of the mecate through so it rests on top of this wrap, then continue with the additional wraps and loop rein. This prevents the mecate being compressed too much stressing the base of the cheeks, either method can be used.

It is difficult to say how many wraps you should use on a bosal as it could be dependent on the following
  • The balance of the bosal, weight
  • The radius of the nosebutton and length
  • Length of the cheeks
  • The depth/width of the horse’s muzzle
  • Whether you include a fiador and cater for a hackamore knot
  • Whether you ride a 5/8” with ½” mecate or vice versa
  • If the bosal has a plug
  • Shape of the heel knot and cheeks
Measuring Your loop reins

A useful guide for the measuring the length of the looped rein can be done by holding the bosal by the heel knot in one hand and extending the reins at the top of the loop in the other and subsequently stretching your arms out, this arm span should provide an adequate loop rein size. The reins will take a little while to break in however they should retain a firmness to them as it is this characteristic which helps transfer the movement of the horse into your hands.

Maintenance

If you need to coil the mecate always coil in the direction of its natural lay and not against, as you would any other rope or cable. If your hackamore becomes very wet whilst riding out it is advisable to remove the mecate and hang it in long lengths (to avoid kinks) and leave to air dry. N.B When conditions and where usage permits, we would suggest unwrapping the mecate to release any tension and to prevent any permanent fixing of its structure i.e. kinks. However, if you are using the same rig every day, for the same purpose (training, roping) and potentially the same horse then the removal may not be necessary on such a frequent basis.

If you are limited in available rigs and differential (sizing, level of training, purpose) between horses is great then you will need to do so. Like a shoe lace, it will normally suffer greatest fatigue and stress where the bend/knot occurs. If you are the only rider on the same horse doing the same thing and continually remove and then replace the mecate every day you will be stressing the same parts time and time again, hence fatigue will occur and consequently the core will become gradually weaker. The tightness of the wrap will also impact on the stress incurred both to the cheeks and the mecate itself. This is influenced very much by how you ride and train your horse. Over tightening of the mecate around the heel knot should be avoided and we suggest hand tightening - do not brace the bosal against your foot and pull the mecate tight. If for some reason you need to wash any of the natural fibre mecates do so in luke warm water and agitate to loosen dirt. We do not advise using any cleaning solution unless it is 100% natural, extremely gentle and free from any chemicals. Once cleaned hang up in long lengths and allow to air dry.

Horse Hair Mecate

Alpaca Mecate