I ride western but with a crop for some helpful cues. Would like to switch to macate reins but am a little nervous about the transition. I love the idea of not holding something and having a "tie up" option also while trail riding.
Beachluvr, Are you talking about the soft kind or braided horse hair? I have used both but I found that the braided horse hair with the bristly texture really gets a horse to respond when neck reining. You would need gloves when riding because they are not very comfortable. I now ride with a 4 plait braided rawhide and romel.
I love a set of mecates. I have several horse hair mecates for my Bosals and a set of yacht line mecates for my snaffles. I prefer the horse hair and if you get mane hair mecates they arent that bad as far as bristly. You get use to them. Plus they soften up after some time. I really don't tie my horse with them. First a good set of horsehair are about 85 bucks and they are still attached to the bit or bosal so if the horse pulls they can still hurt.
I like my mecate. I would ask why do you want to switch? As for tying up your horse with the mecate it can be done but its not so easy as just tying the lead rope part of the mecate to a tree or post. You have to tie it first around your horses neck right behind their ears. You need to do it right to keep your horse safe. What is it about the mecate that makes you want to change? Don't get me wrong, I like them they are nice for having a lead rope and reins all in one. But learn about them and how to tie a horse up right before you try it.
Why so nervous? I agree that there is a certain technique to tying the mecate reins when tying the horse so that it does not tighten or pull on the bridle itself, but other than that they are quite lovely I find. I too love having my reins & lead all in one and there are several different ways to tie or carry the lead end.
They do need slopper straps and they do need to be attached correctly so that the reins don't shorted on you when you pull. I personally do not like the horsehair ones, but that is entirely the rider's choice.
Personally, I don't like the yacht rope mecates unless you're riding in a bosal or a halter. IMHO, they make the bit really imbalanced because one side is heavier than the other. Horse hair are lighter weight so you don't have that problem. Also, it's generally frowned on to tie a horse with a rein that is attached to the bit or bosal.
If the only reason you're looking at them is for the tie up option while riding, then you might just consider getting a bosalita and a get down rope. It's more similar to a halter type setup with the pressure being put on the horse's neck and poll instead of face.