Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Rawhide Reata - A Work of Art

The Vaqueros of the old west were skilled horsemen who valued their horses and their rawhide horse tack. The Vaqueros had many "tools" to assist them with their everyday tasks on the range. One of these "tools" was the rawhide reata (or riata).

The word reata is from the Spanish word reatar, meaning to retie or a rope which ties one animal to another. The rawhide reata was a long braided rawhide rope used by the early Mexican Vaqueros and was, no doubt, first introduced into Mexico by the Spanish conquerors. Though the word reata is often used to refer to any rope; the genuine Vaquero reata was, and is now, a special item. The reata was usually 40 to 80 feet long and was made from twisted strands of rawhide. The finest reatas used rawhide strands, cut by experts, from the most prime part of several young heifer hides. The hides were well chosen and properly cured.

The Reateros (Spanish for "rope maker") were masters at the craft of braiding reatas and other Vaquero rawhide tools. The braiding of the reatas was not only an art form but the braids had uniformity and even tension. This was to ensure a durable working tool for the Vaquero.

The rawhide reata was the most useful tool of the Californio Vaquero and he was highly proficient in handling it. The dexterity displayed by the Vaquero ropers impressed the early American cowhands and the reata was quickly adopted by them, as were other items of equipment used by the Vaqueros. The reata can be thrown farther, with the use of less energy and retaining a more perfect loop, than any other type of rope on the market.

The Mexican way to treat the reata to keep it supple, was to tie it between two trees. Then rub it first with lemon juice (cut a fresh lemon in two and rub the fruit along the length) and then rub it with beef fat (suet). This kept the leather from drying out or becoming stiff. Today, if you use an artificial product it will make the reata too limber.

The reatas of the old west and today are braided in four, six, or eight strands. The eight strand, if made by a top reatero, is a beautiful article and superb for light roping. For average hard work on large stock, the four strand is the best. Diameters vary according to individual preference, but the 3/8” reata is the one most used today and in the old west. Rawhide reatas can vary in degrees of stiffness (called lays in roping circles) depending on the type of rawhide used. For instance, bull hide makes a very stiff rope perfect for heel roping.

The rawhide reatas of the old west were a useful tool of the Vaquero.  One may also look at them as a true work of art and craftsmanship.

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Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Hackamore

Relief from the Bit with a Vaquero Influence

The first Hackamore was probably a piece of rope placed around the nose or head of a horse not long after domestication. These early devices for controlling horses may have been adapted from equipment used to control Camels. Over time, this means of controlling a horse became more sophisticated.

The Persians in 500 b.c. were some of the first ones to use a thick, plaited noseband to help the horse look and move in the same direction. This was called a Hakma. On this Hakma was a third rein added at the nose, which allowed the rider to achieve more power from the horse.  Later, this third rein moved from the top of the noseband to under the chin, where it is still part of the modern Bosal style Hackamore with Mecate reins.

The Hackamore used in the United States came from the Spanish Vaqueros in California. The Hackamore was used by the Vaqueros in the beginning for horse training. The Vaqueros quickly learned that this piece of horse tack was a must for every day riding too.

From this, the American Cowboy adopted two different styles of hackamores, the "Buckaroo" tradition, closely resembling that of the original Vaqueros, and the "Texas" tradition which blended some Spanish techniques with methods from the eastern states.

Bosal Hackamore Style

The Bosal Hackamore uses the Vaqueros tradition of the braided noseband and the Mecate rope. This Vaquero style of Hackamore is used in Western Riding and is an indispensable part of the Vaquero way of making a California reined horse.

Sidepull Headstall / Hackamore

The side pull Hackamore or headstall, is a modern design inspired by the Bosal style. This style has a heavy noseband with side rings that attach the reins on either side of the head. This allows very direct pressure to be applied from side to side. The noseband is made of leather, rawhide, or rope with a leather or synthetic strap under the jaw. It is held on by a leather or synthetic headstall. This style of Hackamore is great for beginning riders.

Today the hackamore is popular in Natural Horsemanship and with horse riders still true to the Vaquero ways. The hackamore is very popular among bitless riders as well, because it does not need a bit. It uses a braided noseband called a Bosal. The Bosal is a special type of noseband that works on pressure points on the horse's face, nose, and chin. 

Buckaroo also offers many traditional “Old Californio” hand braided rawhide bosals for your hackamore, like the Bosalitos Vaquero Style. These bosalitos are braided in the old Vaquero tradition with a forelock tie.

Buckaroo Leather uses the influence of the Vaquero when creating the many styles of Hackamores. Check out the many styles of hackamores and bosals available from Buckaroo Leather, at 

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

All About Western Reins

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
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.

Romel 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
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.

Mecate 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. 


To see many more choices of reins, mecates, bosals and other fine leather tack,  see or on Facebook at Buckaroo Leather Products. 

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rain Rot

Along with blustery winter weather, some have seen complications in horse health.  Some will tell you that this winter, they can feel small lumps on their horse’s skin or hair. Maybe it’s rain rot, how do you know?  What is rain rot?

Rain rot, rain scald or Dermatophilosis, as it is sometimes referred to, is one of the most common skin infections seen in horses. It is caused by a bacterial infection, it can often be mistaken for a fungal disease. The bacterial organism acts like both bacteria and fungus. 
It lives in the outer layer of the skin and causes large and small crusty scabs and matted tufts
of hair.  There are usually dozens of tiny scabs that have hair attached and easily come out.  Sometimes after removing the scabs, the skin is pink with pus but becomes gray and dry as it heals.  This condition is not life-threatening.

Rain rot usually appears first on the horse's back and rump, it can also be on the back of the fetlock, front of the cannon bone, tips of the horse's ears and around the eyes and muzzle.

Typically, it is not painful to the horse. The scabs do not seem to cause an itchy feeling either. Removing the scabs may be painful to the horse.  Remove the scabs slowly and gently.  Many of the scabs may be brushed out when the coat is dry and sometimes wetting the area may be helpful in removing them. 

A horse can become infected by sharing equipment, blankets, leg wraps and brushes with other infected horses. The best way to prevent rain rot transmission between horses, is to use a disinfectant on any shared equipment after each use. Check with your veterinarian to see what disinfectant he/she recommends for use on your tack. 

In order to thrive, the organism needs a warm, moist environment.  A secondary bacterial infection may occur. It is very important to treat rain rot immediately.  Any secondary infection may be quite resistant and more difficult to treat.

Rain rot can sometimes resolve without treatment.  Some horses can get rid of it as they shed out their winter hair coat. However, it is not advisable to let the condition continue, don’t wait to see if it will just go away.  Begin treatment as soon as you realize your horse has the condition, preventing it from getting any worse!

Dermatophilus congolensis, the bacterial culprit, grows better with a lack of oxygen. Since it doesn't like oxygen, you'll have to eliminate the heavy hair coat, and remove any scabs that hold the organism to the horse's skin.  It is not a good idea to use ointments, since they hold moisture and moisture needs to be removed for the condition to resolve. The best treatment is to wash the horse with veterinarian recommended antimicrobial and antibacterial shampoos and rinses. These medications help to kill the organism.

Our family has been dedicated for 35+ years in serving the Western Horseman with the safest, most durable, Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Friday, December 30, 2016

Leather Tack & Winter Weather

The Problem

Winter weather is no friend to leather, especially polluted rainwater. Microscopically, leather is made up of collagen fibers. During tanning, hides are soaked in chemicals to prevent its fibers and their bonds from decomposing. Natural fats and oils are tumbled with the hides to keep the protein bonds from drying out and to make the leather supple.

Protein bonds must be lubricated and kept supple, this is the key to long lasting leather. If the bonds dry out completely, they shrink, become brittle and break. Once broken, they are permanently weakened. Soaking leather in oil may make it supple again, but damaged fibers can’t be repaired or strength restored.

When your equipment gets drenched, the water forms temporary bonds with the lubricating oils. These vital oils float to the surface as the water evaporates.  That’s why the leather feels stiffer.

The Solution

Take action to get therapeutic oil back into that wet leather before its fibers completely dry. Remove dirt, sweat and mud from the wet leather with a damp rag. If the leather is really dirty or old conditioner has come to the surface, use a non-greasy, neutral pH leather cleaner to get the surface clean.

Wet leather needs to absorb conditioner deep within its fibers to replace oils flushed out by water. While the leather is still damp, apply a light coat of a penetrating, neutral pH leather conditioner. Capillary action will pull the conditioner down between the fibers. Thick or waxy conditioners tend to stay on or near the leather's surface, so look for conditioners with a neutral pH and avoid cleaners or conditioners with a harsh, alkaline pH. An alkaline pH, such as that of soaps, can damage and eventually weaken leather fibers.

An Ounce of Prevention

Water can move dyes, leaving spots and splotches on leather once dry. Often, stripping and re-dying is the only recourse to restore even color or the depth of color.

Preventing the problem with a waterproofing product is much easier. Grease based dressings form a physical barrier that keeps mud and water away from leather's pores. However, they are sticky, attract dirt, and cannot be used on nappy leathers like suede.

Silicone sprays are non-greasy and can be used on both suede and smooth leather. However, they can make leather surfaces slippery and can affect the color of porous leathers, and can dry leather if overused.

Acrylic copolymer is the newest option for waterproofing. It forms a microscopic net too fine for water molecules to penetrate but porous enough to allow water vapor to pass through. It creates a unique, flexible coating that protects leather fibers from rain, maintains breathability, isn’t slippery, and acts to fix dyes in porous suede.

If you're caught out in the rain, don’t panic, look at it as an opportunity to stop putting off that leather conditioning and waterproofing you've meant to do but just haven't gotten around to yet and embrace the opportunity to care for your tack!
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