“Could you please talk about proper hackamore maintenance? Keeping it on a shaper when not in use. Not leaving the mecate tied to the hackamore when not in use? I see so many people ruin a quality hackamore by not storing properly.” Daarla via Facebook

Answer from Martin:

If a Hackamore or Bosal is constructed with a block they hold their shape better. Hackamores that are not, constructed with a block, want to close and need a block to hold the shape of a horse’s muzzle. If you do need to shape one it should be with a large can or stick to open it behind the hanger 6” inside. That’s the muzzle width at the horse’s molars. The narrower blocks may open it up for the jaw but can leave it putting pressure on the molars, but that’s out of sight out of mind to most people.

It doesn’t hurt to remove the mecate, or at least loosen it real good so you don’t have to retie it completely. In the arid desert it’s not as important unless we get moisture which only comes once in a great while. The products used to maintain the condition may depend on what you need to protect it from. When I was very young Bill Dorrance told me he only used beef tallow, so I went home and greased my rawhide  the rats and mice had everything ruined in a very short time. Bill had a good tack room for his gear, I didn’t. Basically any natural greasy animal origins or fat will put the oils back in the fibers. Calf testicles is what I have had the best luck with, the grease drys fast, doesn’t smell as much, puts a nice color on, and doesn’t collect dirt.

There are several Rawhide Creams made with various oils and soaps that are easy to acquire (we have an assortment here) that condition leather or rawhide very well, but depending on the oils and where the gear is stored it may turn a light green or white if it’s oiled too heavily. It wipes off easily though. By far the biggest threat to nice braided gear is dogs and rodents, keep it in a safe place from them.

Martin Black