Sometimes trying to help will backfire on you which is exactly what happened to me on Sunday morning. Let me set the scene for you. It was around 7:45 am on Sunday morning. The last day of this little local finals. It's a final for lower level riders, the max jump height being 2'6". They even have pleasure classes. Super cute, really exciting weekend for kids (and adults!) just starting out. For most of the riders, this is the only show they've ever stayed over at. Many probably haven't even had their horses braided, or maybe only occasionally. I was there braiding for an old friend who is a trainer. They don't do many overnight shows, but they do show a lot, and know how to turn out their horses well. It's lovely to show up to clean and properly pulled manes!
Anyway, I digress... I was the last braider left on the grounds. Most of my customers were showing in the not before 1 PM classes, so I started at 1 am instead of 9 the night before. I had one horse that had shipped home, so I knew he wouldn't be available to braid until the morning, which also contributed to my deciding to start later. Anyway, the rest of the braiders were all gone, I was the last one on a ladder. I was finishing up one horse, and had two left after that one, when a groom for down the aisle approached and asked if I had time to do a tail. It seems her braider hadn't been able to catch the horse in its stall so left with the tail not done. Tails take like 20 minutes, and I was ahead of schedule so I said I could do it, no problem. I just had to finish the one I was working on. Then the groom comes back and says I'm so sorry, but it seems our braider didn't put it our fake tails on any of the horses showing today. (Which thankfully was just two others besides the one that wasn't braided at all.) I said it wasn't a problem, I can put them in too.
|unrelated tail photo
So I head over there and get started on the unbraided tail. And this is where things go bad... I have NO IDEA what happened, but I had been on my ladder for about five minutes or so. I had gotten the tail started and was working my way down, when all of a sudden my ladder tipped a bit and I felt this insane pain in my knee. I also realized I was falling. There's nothing to stop this when you're standing behind a horse. Fortunately, I was in a nicely bedded, clean stall when it happened so despite being covered in shavings, it was a fairly soft landing. Also the horse was a saint and never moved a muscle despite all that commotion right behind her, But guys... my knee was not okay. I had to get help getting up (so embarrassing) and needed to sit for a minute to get my bearings. I mean, I still had to do this tail and braid two other horses! After a brief sit, I was able to get back up and braid the tail. I opted to do that without the ladder (thank goodness it was a small horse!) and it turned out just fine. Next I headed over to tie in those fake tails. The tails were already braided, so normally you can just pull the fakes up into the braid and tie them in. That is, assuming they have hunter tails. Hunter tails are tapered at the top with a loop. Like this:
They are the more expensive option for a fake tail, but it is the best shape for how we braid. Unfortunately, that is not what this barn had for fake tails. They had the type quarter horse people like to use. Quarter horses don't do tail braids for most of their classes, so the tail can hang below the bone. The top of those fakes looks like this:
They have that huge knob on the top. Needless to say, you can't pull that up into a braid. I wasn't completely sure what to do with that, but played around with it a bit on the first horse. Unfortunately, that horse a REALLY crappy, thin tail, so no matter how I tied it, you could still kind of see the knob. I showed the people before I went on to the next to see if they wanted me to do it over, but they said it was fine. The other horse had a fuller tail, and it stayed hidden. Thankfully. So with those done, I hobbled back up my ladder to finish my other two horses. Thinking that despite being wounded, I had done a good deed. (I mean, I charged them of course, but still, was there when they needed me, right?)
Well. As I'm standing on one leg on my ladder, braiding my last horse, the mother of the kid with the horse with the crappy tail comes up to me and says that her trainer had to re-hang the tail because I put it in wrong. I said, I'm sorry, I did the best I could with what I had to work with. I have no idea what she wanted from me. Her ten dollars back? To tell me I suck? I have no idea. I didn't offer a refund. Maybe I should have. I dunno. She didn't ask. Their groom came over to me and apologized like a hundred times. She was like I can't believe she said anything to you, you were trying to do us a huge favor. I said it was fine, I wasn't sure it looked great and that I wasn't used to that type of tail with the tail already braided. And the groom was like seriously though, you showed them before you left and they said it was fine! So at least I only let down one person I guess? Sheesh. Braiding really is a thankless job.