Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mane Braiding

Braiding: You'll need a braiding kit if you plan to braid your horse often. You can assemble your own from items purchased at the drug store, or buy a pre-assembled kit. You'll need: several 12-inch strands of yarn matching your horse's mane; small rubber bands; a braid pull-through (purchased at tack stores or you can make one out of some twisted wire, or you can use a crochet or rug latch hook); hairdressers clips or clothespins; small blunt-tip sewing scissors (to clip the yarn); gel or braiding product; and braid aid (a sectioning comb available at tack stores). I put  each braiding tool  in easy reach in a pocketed grooming apron. (Raspberry Ridge has grooming aprons with pockets.)

Braid the yarn in, tie ends at bottom of braid, and fold braid Hunter Braids: You can braid a mane that is wet, dry or gelled — it's your personal preference. I favor braiding a damp, slightly gelled mane because it makes the mane neat and holds stray hairs in place. 
To start, stand on your stool and begin at the poll. For easy access, fold the yarn in half and slip the entire bunch through the top ring of your horse's halter. Take your braid-aid and comb off a section of hair. Put your hair clip in the free hair next to your section of hair (this keeps the rest of the mane fromPull strings through drifting into the section you're braiding). 
Start braiding the section down, keeping it tight as you go. About halfway down, place a folded piece of yarn in the center of the braid, and continue braiding, incorporating the yarn into it. At the end, wrap the two pieces of yarn ends around the braid's tail and knot them. Continue down the mane until all the braids are finished. You will have a row of braids with about 4 inches of yarn hanging down.

Finished braid To finish them, slide the hook down the top of each braid, through the mane, and slip the loose yarn through the eye of the pull-through. Pull it up and out the top of the braid. The braid tail and excess yarn will now be through the mane and lying at the top of the crest. Crisscross the yarn under the braid, bring it back around to the middle of the braid and make a square knot. Clip the loose ends of the yarn. Remember to keep this all very tight or the braids will slip loose.

Running braid Running braid: This resembles a long French braid and requires a long-ish mane. Start at the crest, braiding along and picking up a small section of hair close to the neck. Continue down the neck, incorporating small sections as you go. At the end, braid down the loose end and put in a rubber band. This braid slips out easily so should be done right before your class.

Continental braid: (Seen mostly on Arabians, this beautiful braid requires a very long mane.) Band the mane. Split each ponytail into two sections and band each section to the adjacent split sections 3 inches down. Continue across the neck, then repeat the sectioning and banding 3 inches down. Continue this process at least halfway down the mane's length. It should look like a net, with the ends dangling loose. To highlight, wrap contrasting color tape around the bands.
Another variation, diamond braiding requires the mane to be braided in individual braids as hunter braiding, and the using the continental style to create the web or diamond pattern.  (see photo).  This requires a bit more work, but the finished product is stunning. The advantage to plaiting is that the horse can move around and
shake his head, and it does not affect the mane style. Beginning at the poll, separate the mane into a row of small ponytails, or plaits, secured by rubber bands approximately 2-3 inches from the crest of the neck. Next, take all the hair from the first plait, closest to the poll, and half the hair from plait number 2 and secure the hair with a second rubber band about 2 inches below the first row. Then take the remaining hair from plait 2 and half the hair from plait 3 and repeat the process all the way down toward the withers, creating a second, alternating row.
A third row can be added by repeating the process. You can finish the mane with braiding tape at each joint, although the use of contrasting colored rubber bands is easier on the mane and just as acceptable.
 
Continental braiding
 



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