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Film, Video Horsehair Rope

About this Item


  • Horsehair Rope


  • Stewart, Leslie J. (Narrator)
  • Marshall, Howard W. (Interviewer)
  • Gastañaga, Linda (Interviewer)
  • Ahlborn, Richard E. (Narrator)

Created / Published

  • July 25, 1978


  • -  Artifacts
  • -  Ninety-Six Ranch
  • -  Reins
  • -  Macardies
  • -  Hackamores
  • -  Horsehair rope
  • -  Ethnography
  • -  Motion Pictures


  • Ethnography
  • Motion Pictures


  • -  Richard Ahlborn interviews Les Stewart while he demonstrates how to make horsehair rope to be used as hackamores, reins, and lead rope.
  • -  Hackamores are a type of halter used with some frequency in the California/Northern Great Basin region, especially to break horses. The word is derived from the Spanish jaquima, meaning halter. A hackamore consists of a braided rawhide bosal or noseband, a braided rawhide headstall with associated leather strips, and a macardy. Macardy (or McCarty) is derived from the Spanish mecate, meaning horsehair rope. (See also Mora 1946, 67-77; Dary 1981, 48-50; and Ward 1958, 143-48)
  • -  The macardy forms a hackamore's reins and lead rope. Ahlborn is shown holding one at the midpoint of the video. As Les explains, custom dictated a macardy twenty-two feet long which, when knotted to the bosal, provided eight-foot reins and a twelve-foot lead rope. It was created by twisting a forty-five foot strand and doubling it. The doubled strand was twisted, and thereby shortened, yielding the twenty-two-foot rope.
  • -  Les learned to make the hair twister from his father, who had seen Mexicans use the device on the California border. He made this example the day before the interview, carved in his initials and the date, and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution. It was included in the "Buckaroos in Paradise" exhibition.
  • -  Other devices are also used to twist horsehair rope. Les said that mechanical apple-peelers could be adapted for this purpose, and joked that many a cowboy's wife had been discomfited to discover that her kitchen tool was being used to twist horsehair.


  • 3/4 inch video

Call Number/Physical Location

  • AFC 1991/021: NV78-VT8, VT9

Source Collection

  • Paradise Valley Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1991/021)


  • American Folklife Center

Digital Id

Online Format

  • video

Rights & Access

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Credit line

Paradise Valley Folklife Project collection, 1978-1982 (AFC 1991/021), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Stewart, Leslie J, Howard W Marshall, Linda Gastañaga, and Richard E Ahlborn. Horsehair Rope. 1978. Video.

APA citation style:

Stewart, L. J., Marshall, H. W., Gastañaga, L. & Ahlborn, R. E. (1978) Horsehair Rope. [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Stewart, Leslie J, et al. Horsehair Rope. 1978. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.