As usual, we start by looking at the real thing as best we can without physically having it here. In this scale my goal is to add some grid texture and to emulate that super matte rubber finish.
So I whipped up some plain, flat reins...
And marked where the rubber would start and stop. Just like with laced reins, the point of the rubber is to give the rider a better grip, so the rubber only covers the length of the reins most likely to be touched.
The touchable area usually starts about halfway through the horse's neck in this kind of head position, and ends a tiny bit before the buckle connecting the two reins.
Having marked off my rubber area, I covered all the non-rubber bits of the reins with very gentle masking tape.
Next comes texture. That sort of gridded wedded finish reminded me of the metal grippy bit on my ancient Xacto knife...
I love using tools for random tasks they're not designed for!
After dampening my rubber sections with Gum Tragacanth, I just rolled the grippy bit of my knife over them like a rolling pin.
All that's left is finish. I finish all my leather with Satin Shene, which isn't particularly high gloss, but for the rubber bits I'm after a super duper matte look.
This is the best easily available dupe I've found for Testor's Dullcote. Anyone who's ever tried painting a horse in pastels knows how many "matte" finish sprays aren't actually 100% matte. Luckily, this one is!
Crossing my fingers that I wasn't just about to ruin these reins I'd been working on all morning, I gave them a very, very light spray, hoping to avoid a buildup of product and a white cast.
The final touch was these little leather bits (technical term) on all the transition areas from the rubber back to the regular leather.
And they're done!
I'm really pleased with these, considering they're a first try. The Krylon spray doesn't make them too stiff, and my experience with using it on horses makes me think it'll hold up to regular handling just fine.
Now all I need is the rest of the bridle!