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What is Horsehair Rope?

Horsehair rope is mainly made from mane hair. Tail hair is stronger but it is much coarser. Mane hair is used for a softer suppler rope.

You begin with clean hair that has been separated to make what is called a hair bun. Then spin the hair from the hair bun into strings. The process of rope making is one of twisting and spinning, similar to spinning yarn from wool. The direction in which the strings are twisted is very important. The strings are twisted in one direction. The strands (made of four strings each) are twisted together in the opposite direction. The finished rope is held together with counter twisting forces.

The process of making rope is explained quite well in the book "Making Horsehair Rope" by Diane Gadway and Richard Schneider. Horsehair rope generally is light weight in comparison to leather. That's why most throwing ropes or reatas are made of leather. The most common place that we see horsehair rope used is as a mecate (pronounced McCarty). The mecate is a very simple design. Horsehair rope is tied to a bosal using a special knot that makes a single loop for a rein and leaves an end piece of rope for a tie.  When teaching a new  horse to neck rein the prickly nature of horsehair rope is a good training tool.

Excerpts used from the book "Making Horsehair Rope"
by Diane Gadway and Richard Schneider

Below is and example of a horsehair rope.

  This is a beautiful example of a
horsehair rope made by Jose Ortiz



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