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In the Western world, there are numerous types of reins to choose from. Here’s a quick run-through of the various reins!
Romal reins have gained popularity through the years, especially in cowhorse events. They are typically braided rawhide. The reins go halfway and connect into a single romal rein. The reins originated from Spanish vaqueros and are most likely seen being used on a shank or curb bit. You hold the romal rein in your non-riding hand and the connection between the reins with your thumb up on your riding hand. Horses being ridden in romal reins need to be soft with little movement from the hand needed. There is more leverage given in romal reins compared to split reins.
Split reins are the classic Western rein. Normally made out of leather, they can be ridden two-handed or one-handed based on the bit. The reins are separate and do not attach to each other. They can be found in various weights and lengths. Split reins are the most versatile of the reins.
Roping reins are connected looped reins. They make it easier to rope in as there is less likelihood of losing the reins. There is also no piece to drag or get dirty. Roping reins come in multiple lengths and can be used in numerous rodeo events. For example, some can be found with grips or knots to make it easier for barrel racers to reach down and turn a barrel with.
Mecate reins are another type of connected looped reins made of horsehair or nylon. They are normally ridden with hackamores or snaffle bits. Before using Mecate reins, you need to learn how to tie the rein correctly to your hackamore or bit. Once tied correctly, there should be enough rein to use as a lead rope or to tie to the saddle while riding. Similar to romal reins, they originate from Spanish vaqueros.