Sunday, August 4, 2013

Horse-y Doo-dads

If there's one thing horse owners like to talk about, it's their horse. "I have a horse..." is not considered a conversation stopper for nothing. Unless of course the person being addressed also has a horse, in which case the yammering begins, each equestrian desperately trying to look like they're paying attention while the other person speaks, while they're really just waiting for a pause to jump in with their own fascinating stories of how doggone cute/troublesome/smart/ their horse is.

I refuse to let my blog become a tiresome parade of horse-y posts. But I do make things for my horse, and since this blog is about me making things, here we go.

I've started using a hackamore on my horse, because I find the vaquero traditions fascinating. I realize most of you are not here looking for that sort of information, but in case you are, there's a very good book by Al Dunning that covers the history and method of proper hackamore horse training. There are three main parts to a hackamore: the bosal, the hanger, and the mecate.

I didn't make any of this; it's simply for illustration.
Bosals are usually made of braided rawhide and take more skill than I currently have, though I'd like to try making one someday.  I bought mine secondhand, and while it's nothing special, I like it and it works. I made my own hanger from latigo leather I had in my stash. The nice thing about it is that there's no hardware: no buckles or clips to fasten. You adjust and knot the leather to fit your horse, and then all you ever have to do is slip it over his nose and ears. Some hangers are just a strip of leather, some are fancied up a bit with braiding or "bleed knots" which is a method of working the leather in and out of slits cut in. I used bleed knots in a traditional design and I'm super happy with the results.

Mecates are traditionally made of horsehair. Modern retailers also offer nylon or cotton rope, which is popular with bright colors and easy care. I tried a nylon one that was gifted to me, and while it was nice and soft and worked okay, I wasn't happy with how slippery it was. My knots kept loosening, which is irritating at best and dangerous at worst. But I didn't have gobs of horsehair to braid, so what to do?  Then I hit on common gardening twine. Reasonably strong, with a rough look that mimicked horsehair -- great idea!

It took about 8 hours of measuring, twisting, doubling, and more twisting, but I finally ended up with a pretty good result. The only problem? It needed to be 22 feet long, and I only made 18 feet. I measured my initial strands out to 25 feet, thinking that three extra feet would be gracious plenty to allow for the twists, but apparently not. It's a beautiful thing, but it needs to be longer. I'd also like it to be a little thicker. I may revisit this once the blister on my index finger from twisting goes away.

Strands in progress... 

Finished mecate! 
Okay, it's WAY past my bedtime, so I'm gonna leave you here. I have more things to update, because it's been a busy couple of days, so check back soon for more stuff -- like pictures from the first Wenny Makes It -- With YOU! Garden Party!

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