Romel Reins – The Man to Call for Repairs

Susie Morgan - November 7, 2014

'Steve was willing to take on the task even though several others had turned me down. Worse, the reins had been kangaroo not cowhide adding to the challenge.'

I remember buying my first pair of romel reins at a swap meet in San Diego in the late 60s for $25.  That was a lot of money for me, and a lot for a pair of reins in the day.  They had been neglected but the reins themselves were still in fair shape.  The popper at the end of the romel was missing, and the bit attachments were gone, but I replaced those with alligator snaps….problem solved.  The popper I replaced with a piece from an old latigo cinch no longer fit for cinch duty.  I still have that pair of reins.

Romel reins, sometimes spelled Romal, or Rommel, are the classic braided rawhide reins associated with the California Vaquero reined working cow horses. These reins are a simple adaptation of the single rein. When the Vaqueros began using the reata to catch cattle and horses they could no longer carry a whip or bat so they simply incorporated it onto the reins. While the Vaqueros chose rawhide as the material of choice, romel reins can also be found in horsehair, leather, and in the 60s and 70s, in kangaroo which is by far the softest. 

Recently, disaster stuck when I loaned my bridle to a friend who allowed the horse to step on the reins and damage them.  This pair was not as easy to repair as my first purchase.  First, it needed actual replacement braiding requiring an expert eye and artist’s hand.  And this pair contained silver ferrules which were dented.  Today, with fewer producers of romel reins, it is even harder to find someone willing to do repair work.  Further, this pair of reins is kangaroo and dates back into the 70s, so this added to the challenge.

My husband had a similar incident two years ago, and, after months of looking around, I somehow found a craftsman willing to repair them.  Did I keep that craftsman’s information?  No.

Enter Steve Derricott master leather craftsman in Idaho.  Finding Steve was no easy task, but thanks to the internet, I finally hit the jackpot.  He is listed under Gfellers Casemakers.   Casemakers not being a listing I would have thought to search, but sometimes diligence and good luck pays off.  A Geologist by education, he is a wonderful leather craftsman.

Steve was willing to take on the task even though several others had turned me down.  Worse, the reins had been kangaroo not cowhide adding to the challenge.  Steve is reasonable in pricing; and he will take on the odd job.  He will not promise something he cannot deliver, and he will be honest if your reins are not repairable.  Turnaround time is also reasonable.  If you have ever ordered a pair of custom chinks or a saddle, Steve is downright fast. If you own a pair of romel reins, mark down this phone number 208-884-3766 as he doesn’t look at email every day.   I hope not, but someday you might need him as I did.