Instructions for Barrel Reins

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Barrel reins contain knots to help riders keep their grip.

Barrel racing pits rider and horse against the clock in a show of speed and skill at the rodeo. Barrel racers pilot their horses around three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern, vying for the best time. The competition requires specially crafted reins that contain knots to improve grip and control. These reins can be handmade using leather strips, parachute cord, or nylon rope. Simple braiding techniques weave the strips together, and create a sturdy pair of reins fit for competition.


Step 1

Wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands. Cut three pieces of 3/16-inch diameter nylon rope, each 9 feet long, with a knife. Light a match. Pass its flame back and forth across the end of one piece of rope until the fibers melt together. Repeat this step for both ends of all three pieces of rope to prevent them from fraying.


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Step 2

Match the ends of the three nylon rope pieces side by side. Light a match. Run it over the three ends, squishing the ends together as they melt. Extinguish the match, and let the combined ends cool and harden. Secure the joined ends with a clamp onto a tabletop.

Step 3

Braid the three nylon ropes together. Start with the left rope, and cross it over the center rope. The left rope should now be the center rope, and the center rope should now be the left rope. Cross the right rope over the center rope. The right rope should now be the center rope, and the center rope should now be the right rope. Continue to braid the ropes to their ends.


Step 4

Line up the three "unbraided" ends of the braided rope, and light a match. Pass the flame of the match back and forth across the ends, and squeeze them together as they melt. Hold the ends together as they cool and harden.

Step 5

Tie an overhand knot in the reins 16 inches from one end. Hold the reins parallel to the ground, and bring one side over the other to form a loop. Stick one end through the loop, and pull it completely through to make a knot. Tie additional overhand knots every 16 inches along the length of the reins.


Step 6

Thread one end of the reins through the top part of a conway buckle. Thread an eye snap onto the reins, and then pull the end of the reins through the bottom portion of the conway buckle to secure. Repeat this process on the opposite end of the reins. Attach the eye snaps to the bridle.

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