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How to Care for a Mecate

CC Bosal
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Buy the best mane mecates you can find.
They are a good investment.


Look for a solid twist of a good deal of fiber to attain the appropriate weight needed for the hackamore or bosal. Try to have the same diameter of rope as the bars of your hackamore/bosal. Weight is your friend and makes it easier for the horse to understand.

The larger diameter CC mecates are made of eight strands (individually spun clockwise, they are then twisted firmly counterclockwise to combine to make the rope). The CC smaller diameter mecates are made of six strands. These all require more fiber and twist to make into good ropes. With a little care, they will serve you well for years.

You will find all manner of mecates on the market from cheap cow tail to hair from exotic critters never found in old California by the vaqueros. There are also a few expensive human hair mecates, but these don’t have the necessary firmness for clear communication and they are very delicate. Their useful life will be short. The ones without a heart or core (check for a spongy feel) are also lesser in quality and will not hold up over time.
Most mecates found elsewhere today will only be four or six strands. Sometimes this is because of the use of a machine rather than hand work. Other times, the makers cut the amount of fiber and twist in their ropes to save money and make more ropes. Some prefer the more open, loose feel of these mecates. Be careful since they can be stranded on rough corrals or a horse’s teeth.

Practice undoing the hair mecate each time it is used and permit it to hang dry. This allows the bars/branches of the bosal and the rope to relax back into proper shape and tension. True no matter your climate, your gear will last a very long time if you take care of it.

Failure to untie the mecate places unrelieved tension on the fiber and can break down the core. It can also damage the bosal. Leaving the mecate tied to the bosal is a common case of owners abusing their equipment.

Good mecates are made over a heart or core, and depending upon the degree of twist in the strands of the rope, keeping the mecate tied can cause the core to begin to pop out. Take this time to inspect your horse and your equipment before allowing both to “rest.”

Do not use man made mecates (we call these McCartys) with rawhide or roo bosals: they can pull down too tightly and tweak the bars permanently. You may elect to use man made ropes with snaffles and slobber straps. If you use hair mecates for this, try to undo them often to allow them to rest.

Little mites or mildew can get into the rawhide and the hair. This will ruin it.

Even a natural mane or angora (goat) mecate can bend the bars or branches of the bosal if left tied.

Just get into the habit of undoing and retying your hackamore or bosal. Hang it very loosely overnight in a safe place. Once you are practiced, it is fast. Other riders may marvel at your ability of tying up the hackamore without even looking while you visit with them. Leaving it tied demonstrates a basic laziness and lack of care for equipment.

New mane mecates will break in within a few months of use. It shortens the lives of the ropes if they are subjected to cream rinses, laundry conditioners, etc. If you want natural hair and need something softer than mane, try fine angora.


The leather latigo hanger for the bosal can be saddle soaped as can the mecate popper. Avoid oil or leather treatments as they may accidentally come in contact with the rawhide. This might not be ideal for the leather, but the hanger can be easily replaced (and probably will be) several times over the working life of the bosal.

Tie the hackamore up counterclockwise wrapping with the mecate twist rather than against it. This helps to preserve your CC rope.

If the mecate develops kinks, then dampen it with warm water and hang it to dry straight. A fence can help with this.

If you feel you must wash your mecate, try riding in a warm rain (without lightning)or use a mild shampoo and allow it to dry straight on a fence naturally. Hair will take on the shape that it is next to (remember curlers?).

Have to deal with mecates that get stiff in the winter? Try switching to a nearly worn out one for that time. A mecate should not “flop” normally. The lines that carry and amplify the signals should be somewhat firm for clear communication.

It is good to wrap the mecate over the bosal one direction for a couple of days' use and then hold it in the other hand and wrap it the other way to keep from twisting the bars/branches.

Never undo the popper at the end of the mecate. That is what holds it together.

Keep the mecate away from mice, rats, dogs, children, horses---anything with teeth. Also, keep the hair away from moths. If you have mildew or mold from damp conditions, then you may need to clean and dry everything more often or take it into the house, but you will have to determine this. Sometimes a small fan to move air works wonders.

Tip: We like to flip the hackamore/bosal portion over every few times and use the hanger inside out. This keeps the bosal from twisting or turning down if you wrap the mecate the same way each time.

This may sound like a lot, but with a little care, the investment in a good, traditional CC mane mecate will serve you well for many years .


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