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Tying Slobber Straps

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Some riders who start horses in the western snaffle use leather slobber straps to connect either a mane hair mecate (may-KAH-tay) or a man made rope to the snaffle. The straps also add weight to the configuration of the reins for feel and balance.

Slobber straps are used with a snaffle bit with a 5/8ths or, for those with small hands, a 1/2 inch diameter mecate.

Note that slobber straps are attached to snaffle bits with mecates or man-made McCartys. Split reins are attached directly to a snaffle without the use of slobbers. 


Although it can look cool, it is preferable to avoid using heavy motas (MOH-tahs--- tassels in this case with hitched or rawhide buttons securing the tail hair to the rope). When rigged with these heavy tassels, they tend to pull the snaffle action off balance. In ranch settings, they can also collect stickers and burrs.The lead line does tend to make the near side (horse's left) heavier and imbalanced.

Some folks try to use a somewhat larger tassel on the off (right side) to compensate for this. Be careful in doing so. If the horse has a problem, then try a normal mecate end instead.


1. Fold off (right) side slobber leather around snaffle with carved or top grain side out. Feed mecate popper end through both holes from outside to in. Circle mota end under and around slobber leather and tuck mota end under the pulled up loop.

Tying a Slobber Strap - Near side

When feeding the mane mecate through the slobber holes and making the ties, EASE the mecate into place. Otherwise, the cover strands of hair may be stressed and damaged.


2. Measure preference for rein length (some start young horses with reins which reach around the cantle or more when in place and then shortening them as the colt progresses).

Generally, a 22 foot mane mecate with plenty of fiber and twist in 8 or a solid 6 strands is best. Some prefer 24 foot. Much longer and there is too much rope to get in the way for riding. For lunge work, if done, some use a 30 foot mecate with a large hackamore tied up for this purpose.


3. Fold slobber leather around near (left) side of snaffle. Return mecate popper end through the near side inside slobber leather holes. Circle around leather to tuck under loop, pull up firm and create your lead line. The lead may be tied to the saddle for a mature horse, half hitched a couple of times over the horn for competition or remain accessible tucked into the rider's belt or chap ring.

Tying slobber straps - right side

As with the hackamore lead, it is a good idea to have hold of this when mounting or dismounting a colt rather than just holding the reins. If a rider falls in the transition or the colt spooks, the horse doesn't have to be pulled off balance nor does the rider need to be in harm's way.


If you are in the market for custom slobber straps,
please visit our Slobber Straps page.
We can also help with your mecate needs.

NOTE: Illustrations by D. Kunic

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