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About Our Tack
Don Brown & Ann - July 2008
Article in "Quarter Horse News" October 2009
I (Ann) have been braiding reins and bosals since 2001. Owen Topping of the Topping family, a well known and long time family of cattlemen and owners of the Minarets Pack Station, taught me to braid rawhide and leather. My first lesson was taught on the front seat of my truck in the local gas station (Owen wanted to see if I was really serious about this braiding stuff!). This was in the spring just before the pack station opened, so Owen gave me some homework for the summer and said to phone in October when the pack station closed for the season. After a little persistence on my part, Owen realized I was hooked and took time from his cattle business to teach me the art of braiding leather and rawhide and how to cut strings and lace from hides.
I then hooked up with well known braider, Don Brown, of Montague, California. Although most of my lessons were by telephone, Don taught me the art of braiding the bosal. In July of 2008, we finally met face to face. I still talk to Don almost every week, mostly as friends, but also to pick his brain regarding braiding.
I purchase rawhide and kangaroo leather hides from the most reputable sources right here in the USA. All the leather and rawhide is cut into strings which is then beveled and prepared for braiding. Not all of the braiding is done with leather. Parachute cord is also used to braid the body of reins before adding knots and buttons.
Romal reins are made from kangaroo leather or rawhide or a combination of the two, and can take up to 60 hours to braid from start to the finished product. Romal reins braided from parachute cord take almost as long since they come in spools and not hides.
All of the reins are braided around either a cotton or nylon rope core. After braiding the body of the reins and romal, they are then rolled on a wooden surface using a waxed and polished 2x4. Spots are marked where to place the buttons and knots. These spots are built up with leather to create the shape of the knots and buttons. Knots are braided and rolled with the old 2x4 to give them a smooth, uniform appearance. The finished product is then coated with the appropriate leather or rawhide conditioner and hand rubbed to a fine patina.