Braiding for the lazy eventer in eight quick and easy steps

Sable-Dressage

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Braiding for the lazy eventer in eight quick and easy steps

I’m going to be honest here, I HATE braiding. I never liked it when I was a kid and now that I am in my twenties, I still despise it. I have never paid someone to braid for me because that seems like a waste of money. Braiding isn’t hard, it can just be time consuming and monotonous.

I have spent over 10 years working on my braiding skills and methods to do it QUICKLY and without my horses looking like they were braided by a toddler. I can do a polished braid job in under 20 minutes and best of all, these braids will not fall out overnight. I have braided my horses’ manes the night before a competition, turned them out overnight (without even a slinky) and in the morning my braids did not even need any touchups!

Try out my lazy eventer braiding method this season, if you want professional looking braids that don’t take hours…

What you’ll need:

  • Braiding elastics
  • Braiding thread
  • Blunt end needle
  • Scissors
  • Step stool of sorts (unless you’re really tall)
  • Minimal patience

 

Here are the eight steps to a pro braid job that any lazy eventer can perform: 

1) Start with a tamed mane. Your horse’s mane needs to be pulled or cut to a reasonable length. If your horse’s mane is thick I recommended pulling it, otherwise your braids are going to be awkwardly fat. If your horse’s mane is wispy thin, use scissors to trim the length so your braids don’t look microscopically small. It does not matter if your horse’s mane is wet or dry when you braid. In these photos, my model horse Kermit had a wet mane. If you are really paranoid about fly-away hairs, you can add gel or hairspray to your horse’s mane as you braid. But if you’re a true lazy braider, you’ll skip the unnecessary products.

tame-mane

Ready for braiding.

 

2) Divide the mane into even sections with elastics. I aim for my braids to be around three to four fingers wide. If your horse’s mane is thicker or thinner you may have to alter this accordingly. I just pull an elastic around the sections and this keeps them out of the way as I braid so I don’t need to use a hair clip. Having the elastics already there makes it handy once I start braiding. You also get the chance to make sure your sections are nice and even before you begin.

Sectioned off.

Sectioned off.

 

BitofBritain-RiderConnect-1

 

3) Flat braid all the sections as TIGHTLY as possible. Tight braids equal nice braids. Use your finger strength to make sure you maintain a good tension as you braid down and once you get the to end of the hairs, simply secure the braid with the elastic that was already in the section.

When in doubt, pull a little tighter.

Look at those tight braids.

Time for the next step...

Time for the next step…

 

3) Thread your needle and prepare your thread. I just use plain braiding thread, not the wax-coated type and it does the job great. I cut my thread the length of my arm span and I usually need about one section for every three braids.

Needle is loaded.

Needle is loaded.

Your horse's halter makes for a perfect thread holder as you braid!

Your horse’s halter makes for a perfect thread holder as you braid!

 

4) Fold your braid in half then roll it down to the bottom. This is what gives your braid the nice round bud shape that you want.

The braid is folded.

The braid is folded.

Then rolled down.

Then rolled down.

 

5) ‘Sew’ in your braid. Push the needle through the bottom of the braid ball, as close to your horse’s crest as possible. Pull through the thread with the needle, leaving only a centimetre or two of thread out behind. Next, bring the needle to the right of the braid and put the needle back through. Then, do the same but go around the left side. Then, for good measure, go around each side and through the braid one more time.

Push the needle through the base of the braid ball.

Push the needle through the base of the braid ball.

Then go around the the right and back through the braid. Repeat on the left side. And then do the same on each side again.

Then go around the the right and back through the braid. Repeat on the left side. And then do the same on each side again.

 

6) Cut the thread. Use a pair of scissors and carefully cut the excess string nice and close to the braid.

Ready for cutting. I couldn't take a picture of me cutting the braid because I don't have enough hands.

Ready for cutting. I couldn’t take a picture of me cutting the braid because I don’t have enough hands.

 

7) Continue rolling and sewing in your braids. You’ll need to re-thread your needle every few braids.

Voila!

Voila!

 

8) Follow these five steps for the perfect forelock braid. 

finished forelock braid

 

Now enjoy the time and money you just saved yourself by braiding like a pro in about 20 minutes! 

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