How to Braid a Reata

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A cross cultural craft braided to perfection.
A cross cultural craft braided to perfection. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

La reata, more commonly known as a lasso or lay, is derived from Spanish speaking settlers who passed on the craft of reata braiding to Americans. The braiding of a reata is a craft, not a mass produced piece from a factory. They can be used on a working farm or as a decorative piece. It takes time and skill to create professional grade reatas.

Things You'll Need

  • 4-Rawhide
  • Polyester
  • Hemp
  • Nylon strips, 50-100 ft long

Cut the strips: To obtain strips long enough to create a 50-80 foot reata, the entire cow hide must be used. The hide needs to be cut round in order to get such long strips. You will need 4 stripes approximately 1/4 inch thick. Other synthetic materials can be utilized in place of rawhide, such as hemp, polyester or nylon.

Trim the rawhide to size. After the cutting and before the braiding, the strands of rawhide are trimmed in size and often they are beveled. Beveled strands makes them easier to handle and creates a better appearance. There are not many reatas sold with beveled strands, so this step is optional in the braiding process.

Bundle up the long strands and knot the end so the rawhide strips are ready to braid. This is called a tamale; this step will make the braiding process easier to control and the long strands will be less likely to tangle.

Separate the rawhide into four strands. Count the strings from one to four, from left to right. Begin by crossing the second string over the first and the third string over the fourth. You should see two "X" patterns formed with the four pieces of rawhide. Cross the new second strand over the new third strand to create an "X" in the middle of the four strings and then begin the pattern again.

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