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Mecates - (May-kah-tay) from Spanish meaning; rope

Length and Lay

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 (a knot may identify the weaver) or hitched knot and on the other a leather popper. The length of the mecate allows you to create a loop rein 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.

Mecate can be used directly to the bosal, to the snaffle or to a set of slobber straps. 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 have a firm lay, to help transmit a clear signal. If the lay of the mecate is too soft the signal will not be as defined. It is possible to request mecates with a softer lay, colour spec and bespoke length. The strands of a good mecate should remain tightly twisted.

Mecate and Bosal

The mecate normally corresponds to the 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. 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 owners 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” mecate can be used with a 5/8” bosal and additional wraps can be used to compensate for the lighter mecate to achieve the balance. If you are conducting any other form of activity, whether its roping or tent pegging you may find a reduction in the diameter of your reins is preferable.


Different fibres respond in different ways, Alpaca has a softness and body without prickliness and therefore is better on a horse that may already be used to rein pressure and have more feel. 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. The average weight of our 5/8” 6 strand horse hair and alpaca mecates is 1000g and for ½” 700g. (see products). Horse mane hair is the most common form of material, its prickle and body are ideal for not only starting horses but riding horses of all ages, although in the hand they may not be the preference of every rider. Yacht rope reins are 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 traditional twisted hair mecate. They are uniformed throughout but have a rather slippy feel. 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)
  • Mohair, Yak,
  • Alpaca (Soft feel in multiple colours)
  • 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. There should 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 influence the speed of release of the bosal, increased wraps equal more weight this can increase movement in the bosal when the horse is travelling at speed. If a bosal has a plug/spacer, then the knot of the mecate can be placed through this. If a bosal does not have a plug/spacer 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 so it rests on top of this wrap, then continue with the additional wrap, the loop rein and half hitch on the top. This prevents the mecate being compressed too much stressing the base of the cheeks, either method can be used. 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. 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 stretching your arms out, this arm span should provide an adequate loop rein size.


If you ride with a Fiador (throatlatch) which attaches above the heel knot using a hackamore knot, you may find that fewer wraps of the mecate are required. Braided cotton rope is frequently used for the Fiador and once tied equates to approximately one 5/8" wrap of a mecate.


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. 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.