Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mecate with a Snaffle Bit

Denise asked I'm interested in riding with a mecate reins on a snaffle and am unsure how to do so. I like the idea of having a integral lead rope.”

Denise, thanks for your question. I’ll answer it mostly with pictures and a short video. This question has cropped up several times in the past few weeks. I attribute it to more people interested in trail riding and the popularity of the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA). The Mecate, also called McCarthy reins due to the Anglo pronunciation of the Spanish word, is one continuous rein, usually 20-24 feet long, made from either yacht line (braided rope) or a horse hair rope. When used with a Bosal, the Mecate reins are connected to the Bosal just above the Heel knot. Sometimes a Bosal and Mecate will be one piece where the Mecate is braided into the Bosal.

When a Mecate is used with a snaffle bit, it is common to use slobber straps to connect the reins to the ring of the snaffle. The slobber straps are pieces of leather that connect the reins to the bit. Like the picture to the left showing the off side slobber strap and how I secured the end of the Mecate to it. If you tie your Mecate to the slobber straps in this manner make sure you leave enough tail of the rope and point it downward.

A friend of ours, Arden, was looking for a Mecate so I took a 21 foot length of half inch braided rope, braided a leather popper in one end and wrapped some waxed flat thread around the rope where the center of the reins would be for a eight foot continuous rein.

The running end of the Mecate is looped through the near side slobber strap then you half hitch the Mecate so that the remaining length, in this case about 11 feet, runs downward. The near side is where you would adjust the length of the reins to suit yourself. The remaining 11 feet is now a get down rope. To keep it out of the way until you need it, you can clove hitch it to the horn, which is not my preferred way, can coil it and tie it to the near side saddle strings. Or, a traditional method it to get a bit near the end of the rope and tuck it under your belt. That is the bit of the remaining Mecate is pushed underneath your belt from bottom to top. If you came off your horse (it happens) you would have a rope to keep your horse from running away. If the horse ran away before you could get ahold of the rope, it would feed out from under your belt keeping you from being drug.

Anyway, Denise, I hope this video and post helps you rig and be safe with your Mecate.


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