Friday, April 1, 2016

Let's talk about twisting hairs

Braiding is a funny thing. I don't do that much of it anymore, mostly just for one barn a few times a year. I know when I go there that the manes will be pulled and thinned and ready for braiding. So maybe I've gotten spoiled.

I got a text from an old friend the week before last asking if I could braid a horse Friday night. I said sure, and then she then asked if I could do two. Sure thing, not a problem! I then hoped all day Friday that the manes were in good shape...

When I arrived I looked for the two horses I was going to braid. I found one to be a very tall horse and the other a large pony. I opted to do the taller one first, figuring the pony would be pretty quick.

The horse was wearing one of those blankets with the extended neck. It seemed like it was probably a turnout rug more than a stable blanket. As a braider, I don't like those very much. I'm sure they keep the horses warm, but they do terrible things to the mane. I'm not entirely sure why the horse had this blanket on. He wasn't turned out! Just hanging in his stall. It was cool out, but not cold. I was wearing a sweatshirt and a fleece jacket and was quite comfortable. My horses at my house had only sheets on. But I'm not here to judge people's blanket choices.

I started braiding with the blanket still in place. I usually wait until the blanket is in my way to open it up and move it back. Once I got that point, I was quite surprised! The make wasn't just rubbed and fuzzy where the blanket sits... It was GONE!
Um.... That's an awkward hole in the middle there! While I braided that last section before the hole, i contemplated what to do about it. There were a few short strands of hair... I wasn't sure if they were long enough to start a braid though. I decided to give it a shot. I was able to make one braid in that hole using mostly yarn.
It still disrupted the even row of braids, but I think it looked better than leaving an enormous gaping hole there. It was even more obvious once the braids were tied up though.
I'm hoping the riders hands did a nice job of covering it up... I thought the rest of the braid job came out pretty nice though.
Other than the bald spot, this horse's mane was well prepared for me. It wasn't too thick and the length was decent. I figured the pony would be a quick job. Boy was I wrong!

I pulled the pony out and saw it had the same blanket as the horse. Ugh. Not only that, it had a LONG, THICK mane. Double UGH.
I do my best work on short, thin manes. As you've seen from Jamp's less that stellar braid jobs, thick manes aren't really my jam. No biggie though, I figured I could pull this mess some before getting down to twisting hairs. I always pull a little in the middle of the neck before committing to the pull job. It's a good idea to see if the horse is well behaved for mane pulling or if it will plot your demise by the third pull. I was once sent to the hospital because a horse decided mane pulling was not ok. Lesson learned! Always test first on the least sensitive area!

So I pulled a few strands and the pony seemed ok. Great! I pulled another few and she flipped me the equine version of the bird. Poop. Guess I would have to make do with what's there! I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. Nothing worse than KNOWING you're putting an ugly braid job on a horse. Worst.
I took the smallest sections I could without having them too narrow to lie flat. There was no space between them though. The pony also had a thin patch toward the bottom from the blanket, but not as bad as the horse's. Tying these up was a challenge! I had no room to work the yarn because the braids were so close together.
Also the tails on the braids were so long and thick, it was hard to pull them up into the base. I had to work some magic to tie all the extra hair up so it couldn't be seen. This was definitely one of the worst jobs I've done in awhile.

Fortunately, my friend was happy with both manes. Moral of my post here... If you have show horses that will be braided, think twice about your blanket choices. Does your horse live outside in the freezing cold? No? Then it likely doesn't need a blanket that goes 3/4 of the way up the neck. Maybe save that for the bitter cold days to limit the damage to the mane. Also, braiders really appreciate having a mane that's ready for braiding when they arrive. ESPECIALLY if your horse isn't good about having it pulled. If you're not sure about how short or how thin the mane should be, ask your braider to come ahead of time and give you a tutorial. Or let them know the mane will need work before braiding so they can allot extra time. Your friendly neighborhood braider will be very appreciative!


  1. Great job on hiding the bald spot! I DEFINITELY couldn't have pulled that off! I'd love for you to do a more in depth how to on braiding. :D

    1. That's a good idea! Next time I have time while braiding I'll get some more media and put something together.

  2. I'm totally guilty of having Miles wear a blanket that has that higher neck, but haven't had it rub too much hair out. It actually works to my advantage a little bit because I don't pull his mane, so what does come out from the blanket isn't missed.

    Guess I'm not a very good client for the braider (good thing I don't ever use one!) -hides in shame-

    1. Well as long as it doesn't make his mane drastically different in that spot, then it's totally ok!

  3. Thanks for sharing your braiding wisdom! :D

  4. wooahh, didn't know you can braid horse hair!

    Have a great week!
    Animated Confessions

  5. These still look amazing to me. I'd be curious if you would post some braiding tips sometime. I'm very, very rusty.

    1. Thank you!
      Yes, next time I have a braiding job and I'm not in a rush, I'll get some step by step photos and do a braiding tutorial.