Time spent with your BEFF (Best Equine Friend Forever) as you delicately weave horse mane braids and horse tail braids can be therapeutic for both the horse and their human. There are a number of reasons you may want to learn how to braid a horse’s mane, so here are some ideas and tips to help you along.
Horse Braids Basics
Any kind of braiding takes practice and patience, so since horses have a keen sense of the emotions of others around them, you may want to practice on something else first so they do not get agitated if you are getting frustrated with the horse braids.
The tension of the braids is very important, particularly for the comfort and health of your horse. If the horse mane braids are too tight, they will pull as the horse tries to move. This irritation may cause them to start rubbing in an attempt to get rid of the problem, which can then create sores and lead to bigger problems.
For the comfort of your horse, some say you should not braid near the withers, but other equine experts feel that small loose braids are acceptable. You know your stunning steed, so just observe and do what they are most comfortable with.
Basic Steps of Horse Braids
Good preparation is the key to a relaxing, productive, and successful horse braiding session. The first thing you should do is prepare the area to give you and your horse a comfortable and solid surface on which to stand. To keep the horse occupied you may also want to keep a net of hay at the location to which you secure them.
Next, gather the equipment you will need. Some things you’ll need for horse mane and horse tail braids are:
- Body Brush
- Water Brush
- Mane/Tail Comb
- Plaiting bands
You must properly prepare the mane or tail to make the braiding process easier and more successful. After your tools are gathered, you should:
- Wash the mane and/or tail.
- Brush out the mane and/or tail to remove tangles.
- Starting at the head, divide mane into small sections. Smaller braids and more of them can result in less pulling on your horse’s neck thus better comfort.
- Use egg whites for better manageability and glossy finish to the horse mane and horse tail braids.
- Do NOT use conditioner, it will make the mane and tail hair too slippery, so it will not hold a braid.
- Connect your scissors to a lanyard that you wear around your neck for easy access.
Horse Mane Braids Styles
The style you choose can depend on the reason for the horse braids, the breed of horse, or just what looks best on your horsey sweetheart. Some of the most common horse mane braids are:
- Button Braids: Often used when competing in dressage.
- Hunter Braids: Another style used in competition, hunter braids date back centuries as a means of keeping the mane from getting tangled. Farmers used hunter horse mane braids to keep hair from getting tangled in equipment. Soldiers needed them to keep their weapons from becoming entangled. Today, you may also see hunter braids on carriage horses.
- Running Braids: The technique is similar to a french braid. Running braids can keep a mane secured for rides, keep it off of your horse’s neck during warm weather, or just add handsome nobility to your already beautiful animal.
- Web/Diamond Braids: Absolutely stunning horse mane braids for any occasion.
- Unicorn Braids: A fun and whimsical twist on horse mane braids.
Horse Tail Braids
Braiding your horse’s tail can be so helpful in keeping it free of burs and tangles. Competitions may also require that you braid not only your horse’s mane, but that you also do horse tail braids. Some great examples are:
Care and Kindness
There is nothing like the bond between a horse and their human. The time you spend and the caring you share will come back to you a hundredfold. Your sweet horse will always be there for you, on your good days and your bad, so make sure you are there for them as well.
Caring for a horse is more than food and water. Horses must have affection and activity, and taking the time to do horse mane braids and horse tail braids is just one way to show them you love them.
Don’t forget to take the braids out in a timely manner, which you will need to determine based on the type of braid and your horse’s tolerance. Braids should not be left in any longer than 7-10 days.