We are willing to loan, trade or sell just about any gear we own—except a special set of rawhide reins and romal.

By Kelli Neubert

September 22, 2016

My father-in-law Bryan Neubert braided these reins for us as a wedding gift.My father-in-law Bryan Neubert braided these reins for us as a wedding gift. Photo by Kelli Neubert.

I try not to be too sentimental when it comes to most of my equine-related purchases. When there is money to be made, or a trade that’s favorable, I’m not opposed to “tack room turnover.”

In fact, it seems that we’ve always got items coming and going out of our saddle shed. Things get bought, sold, borrowed, swapped and given away. Sure, we’ve got our beloved staples of saddles, snaffles, bridle bits, cinches and more, but it’s productive and fun to try new things and let others use some of the equipment and supplements that have helped us.

However, I’m fairly confident that most riders have at least one piece of gear that is held near and dear to the heart. It may or may not hold a high monetary value. It might be something custom and unique, or just really well made. It’s not something to be traded away, but cherished and used for years.

For me? That non-swappable item would be my rawhide reins and romal.

I received them a few years back. I’d pined for years over finely crafted braided reins connected to a silver bit, and I was excited to finally receive a pair of my own. These reins are expertly braided and crafted. They have a pretty color, favorable weight and a sound, supple feel when used. I know the craftsman spent many long hours braiding them. They are a special combination of utility, tradition and artistry.

Not only are they beautiful, but I have many memories made with these reins. They piloted me through the final steps of making and showing my first bridle horse. They’ve been a fixture in my left hand as I’ve learned to be a more efficient roper at brandings. They’ve draped the necks of a select few horses I’ve owned, and I’m looking forward to using them on others in the future.

But really, the thing that makes these reins so special is that they were given to me as a wedding gift from my father-in-law Bryan Neubert. He spent countless evenings in his rawhide room, crafting them for Luke and me to use and enjoy in our married life (never mind that I commandeered them shortly after saying “I do!”). No matter where we hang our hats, this gift from someone we love reminds us of our California cowboy heritage.

My tack room will always be in a state of modification, with a rotation of different saddles, bridles, grooming supplies, gadgets and other gear. But shoot—I can’t help it—even ol’ un-sentimental me has a special hook for our bridle reins (or, in this instance, perhaps I should call them my “bridal” reins?).

Maybe one day I’ll even let Luke use them.

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