Whether you’ve recently made the change from English riding to Western, or you’ve always ridden Western and have just recently purchased your own horse, then you might currently be asking yourself about slobber straps and mecate reins.
Designed to help aid in your horse’s comfortability while also helping you to apply pressure to the reins more effectively without causing your horse any discomfort, slobber straps and mecate reins are quite commonly used in Western riders of all abilities – but how are they used, correctly?
If you’re currently wondering this – then you’ve clicked on the right article. To help you learn a bit more about these two types of Western-style riding equipment, this article is going to be talking you through everything you need to know about what slobber straps and mecate reins are, as well as how to actually use them. Read on!
What Are Slobber Straps, Exactly?
In a nutshell, slobber straps are essentially two straps of leather that are designed to be attached to the bit, and then connected to the reins.
Then, once they have been attached, slobber straps will then be able to help relieve pressure in your horse’s mouth from the reins, which helps to make the riding experience more enjoyable for the horse.
Plus, besides making sure that your horse has a more enjoyable ride, slobber straps are also able to help increase the communication between yourself and your horse while giving commands.
Wondering how this is achieved, exactly? Well, depending on the design, most slobber straps will be able to add weight to the reins so that your horse will be able to “feel” the different commands you provide more easily via the bit.
As we’re sure you’re already aware, Western riding is based heavily on providing commands focused on placing different amounts of pressure on the reins, which is why the inclusion of slobber straps is so important.
While in use, slobber straps will help you make the varying pressure you apply to the reins far more efficient and effective, while also helping to distribute the amount of pressure placed on the bit so that your horse does not feel any discomfort.
So, when used correctly, slobber straps will help your horse learn to associate different amounts of pressure to different types of commands without being too forceful or causing any pain to your horse.
However, given the fact that slobber straps help to increase the weight to the reins to improve communication between you and your horse, you’re going to need to make sure that you are releasing more quickly than you usually might, otherwise, the pressure might be prolonged for longer than it needs to be, which could both confuse and cause a bit of discomfort to your horse.
What Do Mecate Reins Do?
So, now that you know all about slobber straps, we’re now going to be talking you through mecate straps, as well as what their purpose is. To break it down, mecate reins are essentially designed to be used in combination with slobber straps, although they can also be used by themselves.
If you’ve been riding Western for quite some time, then we’re sure that you’ll have likely already heard about mecate reins, as well as what they do. But, if you’re just getting started or would simply like a knowledge refresh, we’re going to be talking you through them below:
Initially, mecate reins were first developed in order to be used with another popular Western-style riding bridle, which is known as the bosal bridle.
However, mecate reins soon began to grow in popularity when many different, popular horse trainers (including the iconic Pat Parelli) began to use their mecate reins as a way to train their horses on both the ground and while in the saddle.
More often than not, mecate reins are usually made from a strong rope (or a similar type of material) that is specifically optimized in order to be very durable yet easy to work with so that both the rider and horse can easily communicate.
For this reason, mecate reins tend to feature flexible, soft cores that do not become stiff or rigid while in use, which then allows commands to be easily given from the rider to the horse via the varying pressure method.
In addition to this, mecate reins are usually designed to be very long (around 25 feet) which means that mecate reins tend to resemble a long piece of rope, as opposed to standard reins that are typically seen used in English riding.
With that being said, due to the fact that mecate reins are so long, it can be relatively difficult to attach them to the bridle, let alone be able to properly use them and control the horse – which is where the slobber straps come into the mix! Read on to learn how to use both of them together.
How To Use Your Slobber Straps And Mecate Reins
Now that you know what slobber straps and mecate reins are, now we’re going to be talking you through how to properly use them both together. Follow the steps below to make sure that you are able to attach them both correctly to your horse so that you can get the most out of each of them:
1. Attach The Slobber Straps
First off, you’re going to need to begin by attaching your slobber straps! To do this correctly, you will need to take the shiny side of your slobber straps and face them towards the outside, and then take the straps, fold them and push them directly through the snaffle rings.
Once you have done this, make sure that you align all of the snaffle holes and double-check that your slobber straps have been positioned correctly.
2. Grab The Popper End Of Your Mecate Reins
Once you have attached your slobber straps, you will then need to attach your mecate reins. To begin doing this, take the popper end of your mecate reins and insert it through all four holes of your slobber straps.
All the while you are doing this, make sure that you are allowing for around 6 inches of your mecate reins remaining at the end of all of the holes, right at the end of the furthest slobber strap hole.
3. Pull The Mecate Rein Up And Position It Ready For Use
As soon as you have grabbed the popper end of your mecate reins and pulled it through all of the slobber straps, you will then need to take the remainder of your mecate reins and pull it up and over your horse, so that you will be able to use it whenever you are ready.
To do this, begin by taking the rein located directly on the outside of the slobber straps, and then move the strap directly towards the center, up and over the top, and then directly through the loop you have made.
To check whether or not you have done this correctly, you will need to check to see whether or not the reins are pointing downwards. If the end of your reins is pointing down, then you haven’t looped your mecate reins properly, and will need to re-try the steps mentioned above.
Once you have done this, take your mecate reins and take around 9 to 10 feet of your mecate reins and pull it through the loop – this will create your reins that can go over the horse’s head.
After doing this, you should then form a half twitch by grabbing your left rein that will be positioned on the left slobber strap, before then proceeding to take the right rein.
Then, grab the rest of your rein that will be positioned on the outside of your slobber straps, and pull it towards the center of the loop, over the top of it and then pull it downwards through the loop.
4. Doublecheck Slobber Straps And Mecate Reins
After you have successfully done all of the above, we then recommend that you take the time to double-check your slobber straps and mecate reins so that you can make any adjustments if needed.
However, before you do that, we first recommend that you tighten up all of the knots that you have made, as this will help to make sure that you have a long lead rope that you can use via the left side of your horse.
Then, take the rope and run it upwards towards your saddle so that you can wrap it directly around the horn of your saddle to prevent the rope from running along the floor and becoming a hazard.
On the flip side, if you are planning on riding your horse bareback or you are simply planning on using your mecate reins for schooling purposes, then you can alternatively opt to gently wrap your mecate reins around your horse’s neck.
As a side note, if you do plan on doing this, we strongly recommend that you very loosely wrap your mecate reins around your horse’s neck so that it does not become uncomfortable or too tight.
As soon as you have done all this and made checks to ensure that your horse is nice and comfortable – you will then be ready to begin using your slobber straps and mecate reins! You can use your slobber straps and mecate reins for schooling/lunge work, as well as for regular Western riding.
And there we have it! Now that you know all about mecate reins and slobber straps, as well as how to correctly use both of them correctly and safely.
While you’re here, why don’t you give this page a bookmark? That way, if you ever find yourself needing to come back and refresh your knowledge on how to correctly use these two pieces of Western equine equipment, you’ll know exactly where to find us. Thanks for reading!