There are several types of Western Reins. The type of riding you like to do and what type of headstall and bit or bitless bridle, hackamore, etc., that you use will determine your rein choice. Of course, personal preference will factor into your decision as well. Let’s look at some of the options available.
Split reins are usually 8’ in length. They are single pieces of leather which are connected to the bit by loops which are tied, connected by Chicago screws or quick change, swivel and snap closures. They typically come in 1/ 2”, 3/4”, 5/8” and 1” widths. These reins are great for many western riding disciplines. Split reins are used in trail riding, pleasure, reining, training, cutting, etc. Pictured here are leather split reins.
The romel rein is a closed rein composed of two parts, the reins and the romel. The reins connect to the bit and make up close to half the length of the entire piece of equipment, while the single romel rein makes up the other half. Romel reins are finished with a heavy harness leather popper at the romel end. Romel reins are great for many western equestrian events, trail horse riding and pleasure riding. Pictured here are leather romel reins.
Roping reins are one continuous loop of leather that attaches at both ends to the bit. Roping reins are used for western speed events, rodeo events and trail riding. Roping reins are shorter than split reins. They come in cotton, alpaca, nylon and leather. Pictured are leather and alpaca roping reins.
The mecate is the rein system of the bosal style hackamore. It is a long rope, traditionally of horsehair, approximately 20–25 feet long and up to about 3/4” in diameter. It is tied to the bosal in a specialized manner that adjusts the fit of the bosal around the muzzle of the horse, and creates both a looped rein and a long free end that can be used for a number of purposes. The long free end, is often referred to as a “git down rope”. When a rider is mounted, the free end is coiled and attached to the saddle. When the rider dismounts, the lead rein is not used to tie the horse to a solid object, but rather is used as a lead rope or other various purposes. The mecate rein can also be connected to a bit with leather slobber straps. The traditional mecate was an integral part of the vaquero culture that became the California tradition of western riding.Modern mecates are made not only of horsehair, but can also be made of beautiful alpaca hair and synthetic rope. Pictured here are examples of mecate reins.