Online Tack and Horse Equipment Guide: Water Loops

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Water loops Water loops (also called slobber straps) are handy
U-shaped leather straps that fasten a pair of western reins to the bit. Though
originally utilitarian tack for the working cowboy, they’re gaining in
popularity with a wide range of riders thanks to their no-nonsense simplicity.
Water loops are designed to save the bit ends of your nice leather reins from
being harmed. For example, if your horse drinks from a stream while out on a
trail ride, drools non-stop or repeatedly grabs the bit shank and nibbles on
your reins, the water loops will take the brunt of the destruction. Ultimately you may have to replace the water
loops for a few dollars but your reins will be spared. While water loops may be
adorned with silver or horse-hair tassels for the show pen, the ones for everyday
riding are Plain Jane leather that match your reins.

When you buy a pair of reins with water loops,
narrow leather thongs will be included. Before attaching them to your bit,
first make sure that the correct side of the rein—whether that’s smooth vs.
rough or tooled vs. plain—is on the outside so it coordinates with your
headstall. Then undo the knot, pull the top half of the water loop free, and
slide it into the rein slot on your bit. Finally, pull the tips of the thong
through the top pair of holes and tie a snug square knot. Though it may take a
few times to feel comfortable with simply knotting your reins onto a bit, water
loops are actually stronger and more reliable than attaching your reins with Chicago
screws or conchos, which are notorious for detaching at the most inopportune
time.

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