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Article Index

Approach & Retreat
Buying a Horse

Common Sense on the Trail
Curb Strap Tying Info.

Focus & Time
Ground Driving
Ground Manners
Ground Tying
In the Saddle
Introducing a New Horse

Lateral Movement
Mecate Reins
One Rein Stop

The Process
Progress Strings
Punishment & Correction



Round/Square Pen

Rope Skills
Slobber Straps
Training Home
Training Stick
Trailer Loading
Trailer Unloading
Tying from Above
Tying a rope halter



horse with mecate pictureTraditional Mecate reins (pronounced either muh-caw-tee or McCarty) are made from horse hair, but can also be made from nylon double braid marine 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 thing at the other end of the rope (from the popper) which has the knot or cluster of horse hair and 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 people prefer to wrap the end around the saddle horn for easier access. This is really a personal preference kind of thing.

We prefer the horse hair mecate for a number of reasons:


  1. The horse responds to the feel of the horse hair on their neck much better than nylon.
  2. They look really good on our horses.

But, marine grade rope has it’s advantages too:

  1. Feel on your hands. Horse hair takes some time to get used to.
  2. Price. Horse hair mecates are hand made – which adds to the cost.
  3. Easily washable.

Horse with nylon mecate picture Mecate’s are an excellent training device. Here’s why we like them:

  • The weight of the reins with the slobber straps provides an instant release when working with a horse. The release is the reward that the horse is seeking when you ask for something.
  • You can teach a horse to neck rein significantly faster with horse hair mecate reins than with traditional reins.
  • You can use the popper to make a correction while in the saddle without having to go for your progress string.
  • When trail riding, you can use the lead to tie your horse safely. You can’t do this with any other headstall, rein, bit combination that we know of.
  • When schooling your horse, if you want to get off and make a correction or longe your horse – you have the lead rope attached and you are ready to go.
  • When working other horses from your horse you can use the lead to yield the other horse.

How to tie the Mecate Rein:

Tying the Mecate into the slobber straps is easy, Start with the bit attached to the headstall.  You can do this on or off your horse. We’ll start with the right slobber strap (as if you were on your horse).

  • Place the slobber strap through the right ring on the snaffle bit and fold it over.
  • Bring the mota (the mota is the knot or cluster of horse hair and tassle on the opposite end of the rope from the popper) through the slobber strap from the outside to the inside, you will pull all of the rein through the two holes in the slobber strap. You do this by putting the popper end through the holes first and pull the rein all the way through.
  • Pull the mota about 1 foot out of the end of the slobber strap. You need some slack for the half hitch.
  • Bring the mota under the slobber strap and come up over the top of the slobber strap. This should form a hole that you drop the mota down through.
  • Pull the slack and snug the half hitch down. The mota keeps the rein from pulling through the hitch. You’re done with the right side.

On to the left side:

  • Measure out the length of rein you want. We prefer a rein between 8-10 feet in length, this is a personal preference kind of thing.
  • Place the slobber strap through the left ring on the snaffle bit and fold it over.
  • Thread the popper from the inside out on the left side slobber strap. Make sure you leave the length of rein you want.
  • Bring the popper under the slobber strap and come up the inside and over the top and back down through the hole forming another half hitch.
  • Pull the slack and snug the half hitch down. You’re done! You may have to experiment with the length of the rein and popper, but it is easily adjustable.

Ordering Information

Traditional horse hair mecates provide a true feel to the horse for training.  Horse hair mecate reins are hand made from real horse hair. They are available in a variety of color combinations.  Be sure to check out our 100% mane hair mecates in our online product catalog.  These mecates are 5/8" diameter and 22 feet long with a leather popper on the end.  Can be used with a bosal or slobber straps.

Nylon mecate reins are made from " nylon double braid marine grade rope. The same high quality rope that we use in our lead ropes and other products. These mecates are 22 feet long with a leather popper on the end.  Can be used with a bosal or slobber straps.

*Click here to purchse mecate reins on NHS reins catalog page*


There is some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Horses can cause serious injury. Be sensible and don’t attempt anything that is outside your comfort level. This information is intended to illustrate how we apply our training techniques, you are responsible for using this information wisely. If you don’t feel comfortable with your abilities or an exercise, don’t do it! Seek advice or assistance from a professional horse trainer. Stay on the "high side of trouble".

Natural Horse Supply Training Information, (c) 1999 Natural Horse Supply. All rights reserved. Duplication of any material  prohibited without express written permission. This prohibition is not intended to extend to personal non-commercial use, including sharing with others for safety and learning purposes, provided this copyright notice is attached and you have written permission. E-mail to submit comments or request reproduction permission.


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Updated Sept. 2012