How to Braid Cowboy Tack

by Alyssa Ideboen
Braided tack provides a durable material for ranchers and farmers.

Braided tack provides a durable material for ranchers and farmers.

Braiding is a useful skill in creating tack for horses, cows and other farm and ranching needs. Braiding leather especially can create durable and long-lasting tack that a rancher or cowboy can use for years. Properly attaching hardware and braiding will ensure a strong halter, whip, lead or other farm tack.

Decide on what type of tack you wish to create. Reins for a bridle, halters for a horse or a lead shank for a farm animal are projects that vary in complexity and length of time to complete.

Cut leather into strips, or, if using cord, cut the cord the appropriate length of the project. Make sure the strips are wide enough to create a lasting braid. To braid a simple braid, use three strips of material. Knot or group material closely together and fasten it with tacks on a secure surface. This will free your hands to braid.

Begin braiding. Taking the right strand in the right hand with the index finger and thumb, pass it over the middle strand. Pick up the middle strand with the remaining three fingers of the right hand. Hold both strands securely to keep the braid taught.

Take the left strand in the left hand and pass it over the middle strand. Repeat this process, alternating with your right and left hand while holding the middle strand. The middle strand changes as you continue to braid. With rawhide or extra wide material, allow a little space in the braid to keep the finished product flat and even.

If creating a horse halter or lead shank or other project that needs hardware or other accessories, you can add a strand or two while braiding. Slip the accessory through the strands and continue braiding. Alternatively, the braid could be finished off by knotting, sewing or tying, and then adding accessories to the material, looping material around the accessory and beginning braiding again.

Finish the braid by tying the cord into a knot, or sinew if using leather. For a more durable hold with leather braiding, sew sinew or strong thread through the layers of leather. Sewing leather will create strong ends that will prevent unraveling.

Items you will need

  • Leather, parachute cord or roo lace
  • Leather conditioner
  • Scissors or leather cutter
  • Hardware accessories
  • Leather needle
  • Sewing thread
  • Tacks


  • Using a mixture of soap and glycerin may make working with leather easier. This mixture will provide flexibility to work it into the proper shape.


  • "How to Make Cowboy Horse Gear"; Lee M. Rice; 2008

About the Author

Alyssa Ideboen has been writing professionally since 2005. She has contributed to several print and online publications, including "Lexington Woman" and "Global Business" magazines. Ideboen holds a Bachelor of Arts in business management and communication from Judson University.

Photo Credits

  • haflinger vor kutsche image by Jürgen Bock from