Barrel racing is a fast sport that requires both the horse and rider's full attention. Worrying about the reins while racing takes away from this attention. A good pair of braided rope reins will keep the focus on the race, not the reins. The soft rope of braided reins, comfortable on the riders hands, also allows a firm grip. Not only is making your own reins easy and economical, you can also customise the reins to suit your needs.
Measure and cut three lengths of the climbing rope, each length measuring 7 1/2-inches long or desired length for reins. Make cuts in the rope straight across with sharp scissors to help prevent fraying.
Gather the ends of all three pieces of rope together. Wrap tape around the end of the ropes to attach them together and further prevent fraying. Wrap the tape as tightly as possible, and about 1 inch down the rope pieces.
Arrange the rope bundle in front of you with the taped end facing away from you. Fold the left rope over the centre rope, then the right rope over the left rope. The middle rope now becomes the left rope; the left rope becomes the right rope, and the right rope becomes the middle rope. Repeat this procedure to braid the ropes all the way to the bottom of the lengths. Leave 1 inch of the rope lengths left over to fasten the braid.
Loosen or tighten the braid as desired and experiment with how the reins feel in your hands. Adjust as necessary until they are comfortable. Tape the ends of the rope lengths together at the bast the braid the same way you taped the beginning.
Cut two strips of a 1/2-inch wide strip of rawhide leather, each measuring 4 inches long. Fold one of the strips in half. Use a leather punch to punch two small holes through both sides of the fold. Leave a 1/4 inch in between the holes. Repeat with the other leather strip.
Thread a scissor snap onto each fold of leather, so the snap sits neatly inside the fold. Place one of the leather strips over the end of the braided rope, bringing it up just past the tape. Cut a 6-inch long piece of narrow rawhide leather. Thread the strip through the inside holes in the leather fold, then through the braid, then back through the other leather holes. Tie both ends of the leather strip together to fasten on the clip. Repeat on the other end of the reins.
Use slobber straps instead of the 1/2-inch leather strips for a more traditional look. Tie knots in the reins for a better grip when barrel racing.
Do not leave horse unattended with reins on. Never tie a horse with reins attached to a bit.