How to Make Horsehair Rope

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Horsehair rope, commonly called mecate, is lightweight and strong, making it ideal for reins, a traditional hackamore or a lead or tie rope. It is not heavy enough for a lasso. It is traditionally made through twisting loose hair together, much like wool is made into yarn. Separating your horsehair by color will allow you to make patterns in the rope.

Step 1

Wash your bundle of horsehair in plain water and allow it to dry completely before use.

Step 2

Separate the hair strands and arrange them all facing the same direction. Remove any clumps or mats that you find. This process is known as picking the hair.

Step 3

Pull the edge of a few hairs out of the bundle, twisting them as you pull. When you have enough teased out from the bundle, loop the end of the forming strand over one of the hooks of the hand-held rope machine and slowly turn the crank. Continue until the thread is about a foot longer than your desired length of rope, then remove it from the machine.

Step 4

Repeat the process to create two to six individual strands. Tie one end of the strands together tightly using a strip of leather.

Step 5

Loop the free edges of the strands, each on a different hook of the rope machine, and turn the handle in the opposite direction, making sure to keep the strands tight as you do. You can also twist the rope by hand provided you keep it tight.

Step 6

Tie the strands together with a leather cord when you reach the end. Coil the finished product and either lay it flat or hang it up when it's not in use.

Items you will need

  • Horsehair, either mane or tail
  • Hand-held rope machine

Tips

  • Tail hair is stronger but pricklier, while mane hair is softer on your hands.
  • Untie and retie your rope with each use to avoid creating kinks.

Warnings

  • Never wash a horsehair rope with detergent, as this will strip the oils from the hair and make it brittle.
  • Don't use saddle oil, wax, silicone hair polish or leather creams on your horsehair rope, as this will make it slippery and difficult to clean.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images