Braided reins are versatile and practical, and can be used for riding and leading. When you are riding, they look smart and afford a good grip. You could also make a longer version of this rein to use for lungeing or groundwork.
Making your own simple braided rein is satisfying, and cheaper than a shop-bought alternative. It also allows you to tailor the length, weight and even colour of the reins to your own requirements.
Decide what type of rein you want to make -- a lead rein, closed reins or split reins -- then decide on the length of the finished rein. For example, closed reins are generally between 54 and 60 inches, but you can tailor this to your own horse.
The quantity of cord required for a pair of closed reins measuring 54 inches will be 54 x 2 = 108, then 108 x 5 = 540 inches. Nylon cord is more hard-wearing, but cotton is softer on the hands.
Cut the cord into five equal lengths.
Tie the cords together with a loose knot on one end. Hook the knot over a solid object, like a door handle, then separate the five strands. Plaiting with five strands rather than the normal three can take some getting used to, but becomes easier with practice.
With A being the cord on the far left and E being the cord on the far right, pass cord A over cord B, keeping a firm, even pressure on cord B. Then pass cord A under cord C, keeping hold of cord C. You should now have two cords on the left (B and C) and three on the right.
Pass cord E over cord D and next pass cord E under cord A. You should now have three cords on the left (B and C and E) and two cords on the right (A and D).
Continue the over-and-under process, using the three cords that are moved from side to side as you work.
Once the braid is complete, measure it again and trim off any excess, then tie another loose knot on the end to prevent it from unravelling.
If you are making closed reins, you will need a clip at both ends; for a lead rein, only one clip.
Untie one end of the braid, and thread the clip through. Tie it securely into place, then bend the loose ends back onto the braid and wrap the thin cord tightly around the base of the knot. Knot the thin cord to secure it, then push the loose ends of the knot under the cord to hide them.
Before you use your rein, test the strength by clipping it to tree or fence and leaning your body weight on it.
The most difficult part is to keep the pressure firm and even while braiding to end up with a consistent result. Remember that practice makes perfect.
Always test a new piece of tack before using it on your horse. Use clips that are heavy-duty and suitable for equestrian use.