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 Tying the Mecate

There is a certain romance that surrounds the history and tradition of the Hackamore. The hackamore has woven its' way from Spain by way of the Conquistadors through Mexico to California and into the modern western horse world. Thus, the terminology for the different parts of the hackamore are of Spanish origin. The term Hackamore is used when describing the complete set of the bosal, the mecate, the headstall and the fiador. The bosalita is the pencil(sized) bosal used in the two rein set.
The material used in the construction of the different parts of the hackamore had to be readily available to the working vaquero or cowboy. Rawhide, leather and horse hair were always at hand. The technique of construction was dependent on the skill and time constraints of the maker.
This article will show you one method of tying the mecate (may-kah'-tay) on the bosal. The mecate is a rope traditionally made from twisted mane hair. Usually 22 feet in length and has a button with a tassel on one end called a mota. The mecate is used as both the reins and as a lead rope. The mecate varies from 3/8" to 1" in diameter. The most commonly used are 3/8" to 3/4". A general rule is to use the same diameter of mecate as the diameter of the cheek of the bosal. The mecate size should not vary more than a 1/8" larger or smaller than the diameter of the bosal.

Instructions on Tying the Mecate: Hold the bosal with the heel knot to the right. Begin by taking the tassel end of the mecate and placing it down through the V of the bosal, fig. 1. Wrapping towards the nose band (fig.2&3) make 1, 2 or 3 wraps, usually 2 wraps for an average size horse.

Bring a loop, (fig. 4) which forms the reins, up through the bosal. After making sure the reins up are straight and do not twist, secure them with another wrap (fig. 5). Complete the last wrap (fig. 6 and 7) by placing the tail between the reins and the final wrap, pull snug. If completed correctly, the reins will come out of the top and the lead and tassel are on the bottom when held in this position.


This is the first article in a series of future articles including "Tying the Fiador," "Tying the Hackamore Knot," and "Rigging the Hackamore."

   This article is included in "The Art of Braiding, The Bosal."