How To Use Slobber Straps and Mecate Reins
With my venture over to the western style of riding, I decided to use slobber straps and a mecate rein set up for my bridle. I had used them a long time ago when I was really into Clinton Anderson’s method of training and riding. But I have gotten lazy with it because I have solely been riding English style. And you don’t use slobber straps and Mecate reins when you are riding English. I mean, I’m sure you could but it would probably disqualify you in a class.
And I made a video showing Ethan tacked up in his western saddle, and bridle with the slobber straps and reins attached, but I realized I had forgotten how to attach the reins correctly.
After doing some research on it (again) I thought I would share it with you here, just in case you were wondering how to attach this type of rein to your bridle.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Before we put the reins on the bridle, you may be wondering what are slobber straps and mecate reins, and why should I use them? Well dear reader, read on for my explanation of what slobber straps are, and why it’s a good thing to use mecate reins.
What Are Slobber Straps?
Slobber straps are pieces of leather that you put on your bit and attach the reins through. They are helpful as a tool to give your horse a release of pressure. They also help to aid some weight to your reins. If your reins are lightweight, it can cause a delayed response from your horse when you pick up on them. This can in turn cause you to apply more pressure, even if you don’t need to.
The slobber straps help to add weight to the reins so you can effectively and quickly communicate with your horse. They also really help to reinforce the pressure and release system of training a horse. And if you are anything like me, you need all the help you can get when trying to remember everything you need to about pressure and release. When your horse gives to the pressure, you need to give him the release from the pressure quickly. This helps to establish the habit, and then your horse learns to associate doing the right thing to get the release. This is what the slobber straps help to do.
What Are Mecate Reins?
The slobber straps work perfectly with the mecate reins. But you might be wondering, why would you use mecate reins? And what are they?
Mecate reins have been around for a long time. Originally, they were used with a bosal type bridle. But they gained in popularity once horse trainers like Clinton Anderson and Pat Parelli started showing horse owners how they can work with their horses. A lot of the training they do incorporate a lot of ground work as well as working in the saddle.
Mecate reins are typically made from heavy duty yacht rope. The core is firm yet flexible allowing the weight and body of the reins to stay flexible and prevent the reins from becoming hard or stiff.
This gives a heavy feel to the rein, which works great to give the release to your horse. They are about 20 to 25 feet long. So you will only have one piece of rope to use for your reins.
With the reins being this long, you can adjust how long you want your rein, while having extra to be able to use for ground work, leading your horse, or whatever else you want to do. And since the rein is one piece you may be wondering how to attach it to the bridle. This is where the slobber straps come in.
Attaching Mecate Reins To Your Bridle
First, attach the slobber straps to the rings of the bit. The slobber strap will fold in half, and align the holes.
Then take the popper end of your mecate rein. Pass this through all four holes of the slobber straps and end with about 6 inches of the rein freely through the furthest slobber strap.
Take the rein on the outside of the slobber strap,
And under the strap toward the center,
Over the top,
And down through the loop that you have created. Make sure the end points down.
Next you will pull about 9 to 10 feet of the rope through to the center. This will form your reins.
Then form a half hitch with the left rein around the left slobber strap. Take the remaining rein (which will act like a lead rope)
Take the remaining rope on the outside of the slobber strap under the slobber strap toward the center, over the top and down through loop.
Be sure to tighten your knots, and then you will have a long “lead rope” on the left side.
Run the remaining rope up to your saddle, and wrap around the saddle horn. Or, if you are riding bareback, you can wrap the extra around your horses neck (loosely) like I did here with Frisby.
And that’s it! Now you have a nice pair of reins that you can use for ground work as well as riding. I find the lead rope portion of the rope is helpful especially when Frisby won’t move. When he gets stubborn, I have a tool that I can smack across his butt to motivate him to move. And no, I’m not beating him so don’t worry.
Where To Find Quality Mecate Reins
If this is something you would like to try I advise you to find a nice pair of reins. Don’t be tempted (like I was) by the cheap ones. They don’t have the same weight, and the ones I have seem to be inferior rope when I compare it to my Clinton Anderson 14 foot lead rope. But if you want to buy the “official” Clinton Anderson mecate reins, be prepared to spend a lot of money. They are wonderful I have no doubt, but expensive.
I am considering making my own pair of yacht rope reins. I want these because I am seriously considering doing some western dressage with Ethan (more on that later) and I want to find a nice quality yacht rope rein, without spending a lot of money because the reins have a fancy trainer’s name on them. That being said, I do have a Clinton Anderson lead rope which I absolutely love.
I found ½” yacht rope on Amazon for $59.00 for 100 feet of rope. So being the person that I am, I could make a pair of reins for myself, and make 3 more pair of reins to sell on eBay for $25.00 each. So instead of costing anything, my reins would be free, plus I would make $10.00. I call that a win!
Or, I could just buy a pair for $46.99. I have not decided yet, but maybe I will do both, so I can compare? After all winter is coming so I won’t have as much time to ride, and it would be a good time to build up my projects list for videos and blog posts.