Do you wish you knew more about the distinct types of western reins? When choosing reins you’ve got to consider the functionality, safety, and traditions of each type along with your personal preferences says Dennis Moreland of Dennis Moreland Tack. When showing you’ve got to know which rein or reins are legal in your event.
Split reins are the most common type of reins used in the western industry. When showing, they’re acceptable in most association’s classes with a snaffle bit for direct reining or a curb bit for indirect (neck) reining. In NRCHA classes, junior horses can be shown in a snaffle with split reins. Split reins are used exclusively in the cutting show pen on any age horse although you’ll get a deduction for any use of the reins after your cow has been cut. In most ranch riding classes you can use split reins on a snaffle or curb bit on any age horse. Leather is the product of choice for good split reins.
Mecates are single reins used on California hackamores. Some riders prefer to use them on snaffles instead of split reins. A mecate has both a looped rein and a length used as a lead rope, called a tie-rein. Most Association’s allow junior horses to be ridden in a hackamore or a snaffle bridle with a mecate. Twisted horse mane hair or nylon make excellent mecates.
When you transition your young horses from a hackamore or snaffle to a curb bit the 2 Rein outfit is a good transitioning tool to use. It’s made up of a narrow diameter California hackamore (bosalita) with mecate worn under a bridle with romal reins, hence the name 2 rein. As your young horses transition through the hackamore to the bridle you’ll gradually use less mecate and more romal until you have a finished bridle horse. Many Association’s with working cow horse classes have a class for horses in the 2 Rein.
Romal reins (romals) are a closed rein with 2 distinct and balanced parts: the reins and the romal connected with a short strap. The reins are held in your non-dominant hand in a fist with your thumb up. The romal is held in your other hand in a fist. There should be at least 16 inches between your hands. Romals can be used in most Associations classes in place of split reins on curb bits. Romals must be used in NRCHA bridle classes. Romal reins should be hand-braided of beveled rawhide or kangaroo with buttons on both the reins and romal for weight.
Roping reins are actually a single rein, of various lengths, commonly used in roping and other speed events but also legal in team penning and ranch sorting. The length of the rein is dependent on the event and your personal preference. Good roping reins are made of leather, nylon or braided rawhide.
Be sure to read your association’s rule book and ask show management if you have any questions about rein requirements before you enter the show ring. You can have a lot of fun trying out new disciplines and learning how to use the tack that’s required.
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