FRUSTRATED WITH LOOSE MANE BRAIDS? LEARN HOW YOU CAN AVOID THEM
Are you unwittingly making some mane braiding mistakes that are detracting from your horse’s turnout? This is the second post in my three part series where I’m sharing some tips on Mane Braiding Mistakes and how to you can avoid them. Here are the links to other post so you can check them out:
Are your braids somewhat loose despite your best effort to tightly braid down your horse’s mane? The problem with loose braids is that they “explode” when you tie them down as either hunter or button braids. This gives your braids a sloppy appearance and they’re not as secure so they have the potential to fall out – especially if your horse rubs their braids. So loose braids can be a frustrating problem!
Loose braids are usually caused by one of the following things:
- You’re taking hair sections that are too large
- Your braiding technique isn’t working for you
- You’re braiding a dry or damp mane
- You’re braiding a coarse or thick mane
Here are my suggestions for each of these issues:
Section Size: When you section the hair off to start braiding down the mane, your sections should be about two fingers width for hunter braids or four fingers width for button braids. But, this is a general rule. You may need to adjust the section size down a bit to braid your horse’s mane tighter. Horses with thick or coarse manes often require taking smaller sections of hair in order to braid down tightly.
Your Technique: For tighter braids, be sure to use the technique of pulling up on the outside section of hair every time you cross over from the outside (see the photo below). It’s my secret weapon for creating tight, neat braids that look great all day.
Soak the Mane: The mane needs to be soaking wet for good braiding because it helps the braids go in tighter and neater. You might be surprised at how frequently I rewet the mane as I’m braiding down. So wet that mane!
Pro tip: If you plan on hosing your horse off after schooling, soak the mane too and then braid your horse immediately after you get back to the barn.
Coarse or Thick Manes: Other things to consider if your braids are loose include mane type and thickness. You may just need to pull your horse’s mane more to thin it out. A coarse mane needs to be pulled to a manageable thickness and shortened to six inches long for the best braiding. I recommend pulling a coarse or thick mane a little at a time over a couple of weeks. Then regrowth doesn’t become a braiding problem later. It’s easier on your horse too.
Pro Tip: Instead of braiding down the entire mane, I braid a coarse mane in small batches. After I’ve completed six braids, I pull the first five braids up and tie them down before they can loosen. I use the remaining braid as a guide for the braid length. Then I continue braiding down the mane in this manner.
ACTION STEP: Put this knowledge to use by throwing a couple of braids in your horse’s mane once a week. You might be surprised how much your braids can improve. By combining this knowledge with a little practice, it will be so much easier to braid your horse beautifully at your next show.