A Beginners Guide To Braiding Horse Hair

Braiding horse hair is an art of both aesthetic and practical purpose that add polish to your horse’s appearance and signifies a well-cared-for animal. The style of braid will often depend on a mix of factors including the breed of horse, the riding discipline practised and the rider’s own personal reference. From a practical standpoint, braiding is a nifty way to keep a horse’s mane free from tangling and getting dirty. In this article we’ll cover off the basics you’ll need to start on your journey to achieving weaves of special magnificence.

One of the quickest ways to spot a well cared for horse is to note the condition of its coat and the stylistic attention shown to its mane and tail. Braiding is a strong sign of the dedication and love a rider has for their horse, and the respect the rider has for their riding discipline and its standards. 

Braiding horse hair has some very simple but important benefits including:

  • Keeping your horse’s hair healthy and free of dust and dirt
  • Helping the horse look more impressive and professional
  • Preventing horse hair from getting tangled in your riding equipment

Like all things horse related, perfection is achieved with the right preparation, the right equipment, and the right practise. So let’s cover off on those three now.

The right preparation

Start off with making sure you have completed your horse’s grooming routine. Ensure that the mane and tail are free of knots, tangles and dirt. 

Active Equine Tip - Whilst some will argue that a clean mane or tail is harder to braid, a braid that is ruined by dirt and dander is a mistake best avoided. If clean hair is difficult to work, use some gloss spray or a sponge with some water. 

The right equipment for braiding

Like all things, doing any job right requires the right tools in hand before you start. As far as a list of essentials go, you can’t go past these to achieve a great result: 

  • A good quality mane and tail brush that detangles and conditions the hair
  • A basic A-7 plastic comb will work great to comb out the hair before brushing
  • Clipper blades for when trimming is required
  • 100% acrylic yarn that is strong and won’t break
  • Scissors
  • A latch hook to make braiding easy
  • Small elastic bands to tie off the end of your braids
  • A spray bottle with water and/or tail & mane gloss oil for making the hair easier to work with

The right practice

A horse that stands still is going to be crucial. Some horses will naturally love it, others will require getting used to it. If your horse is in the later group, don’t get frustrated, just start off with small attempts and reward your horse for taking part. The more enjoyable your horse finds the process the more likely they will cooperate and in turn the longer they will stay still.

Active Equine Tip - braiding a horse mane for growth is common but make sure the braid isn’t too tight, as the stress on the hair follicles can cause damage. If you want to keep the braid in for a while, it's best to do a looser braid to maximise your horse’s freedom of movement. 

So now that we have the basics in hand, let’s start with an easy horse mane braid you can achieve.

The Button Braid

Button braids are perfect for dressage competitions and protecting your horse’s mane from getting dirty or tangled.

  • Start by trimming the mane to about 6 inches in length
  • Apply a small amount of gloss spray or water
  • Divide the mane into 1-inch sections then braid each section to the end
  • Tie off each braid with small elastic bands and repeat until the entire mane is braided
  • Starting at the end of your braid, roll it back up to the base
  • Tie the rolls into place with the small elastic bands. Repeat until all braids are rolled

Active Equine Tip - For a different look, rather than rolling, try folding the braids in half and then half again. Once finished, secure the braid at the base of the mane with an elastic band.

Perfection starts with getting the basics right first

With the right care, equipment and practise, horse braiding can be an enjoyable and creative experience. As with all things, informed practice will yield improved results so don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid to ask when you hit a tangle. Remember to ensure the braid is not too tight and that once tied, check to make sure the horse isn’t irritated or uncomfortable. 

Should you have any questions or need more information on this topic, don’t be afraid to send us a message via the website, via facebook or via instagram. We’d love to hear from you and will be all too happy to help.