The Complicated Process of Repairing Braided Reins
Here is an update with more details and pictures of the braided rein repair process. First, the disassembly had to take place. After inspecting the damage, making notes and taking photos, it is time to begin the surgery.
Starting by inserting a piece of sinew at the same point on both reins creates a reference mark. One rein is opened up to reveal the damage. All the strings are broken between one of the ferrules. Below the upper break, everything was removed down to the core.
The core is a braided synthetic cord that showed no damage. Had the cord been damaged, repair would not have been possible. The tape wrap was broken in several spots, so it too had to be replaced. The tricky thing about repair is that the newly braided sections must match the diameter of the old reins precisely, or the silver ferrules will not slip back onto the reins.
Intermediate ring knots were tied below each ferrule and compared to original measurements before adding the next ferrule. Ring knots have a reputation for coming undone, so all of these were remade using a different knot. These were already becoming undone before the reins were damaged.
The joint is then wrapped with a single layer of artificial sinew and the first ferrule is slipped into place. The standing end was worked under the first knot before tightening and left long enough to be covered by all three knots. After finishing the third knot, the working end was drawn under the completed knot. This should make them more secure that original design. The reins look brand new and are back in service.
Steve recommends these leather conditioners to maintain braided reins and recommended avoiding liquids like mink oil as they are so easy to over apply. Once applied, there is no getting excess back off. Vaquero Cream to clean and lightly condition. Skidmores Leather Cream or Saddle Butter by Ray Holes.