You have probably already heard that “A man is only as good as his tools.”
When braiding a horse´s mane and tail, it is essential to have the appropriate horse braiding tools. The most common ones are:
- Mane Comb
- Braiding Aid Comb
- Hair Clip
- Pulling comb
- Thinning Shears
- Mane Razor comb
- Seam Ripper
- Latch Hook
You will also need some additional items such as:
- Rubber Bands
- Spray bottle
- Step ladder
- Braiding apron
- Horse Hood
Each braiding tool is designed for a specific purpose. Knowing which tools to use and how to use them will decrease the effort required to braid the horse and enable you to get much better results for any style of braid you want to create.
The braids should look neat and tidy. Loose and messy braids look ugly and give the impression that you don’t care about your horse’s presentation.
With practice, your finger muscles will develop a “memory” of their own, and the braiding process will become instinctual. So after some time, you will start getting the results you desire.
1. Mane Comb
A mane comb can be either plastic or metal and is used for detangling the mane. It also removes dirt and debris from the hair.
When combing a very tangled mane or tail, you should be careful to avoid pulling and breaking hairs. In this case, you should use a detangler solution to help.
It can also be used to separate the portion of hair for each braid so that all braids are even.
2. Braiding Aid Comb
A Braiding Aid Comb is a four-pronged comb used to separate the mane into 3 equal sections to be braided.
It helps the braid look very neat because the individual sections of each braid and all the mane braids are of the same size.
3. Hair Clip
A Hair Clip Is used to hold the mane’s unbraided portion out of the way while braiding.
Any regular hair clip can be used, and you can even use the mane comb for this purpose.
Regular scissors are used for cutting the yarn while braiding the mane or tail.
Some people also use them to cut the yarn or rubber bands to undo the braids.
But this is not recommended because you can accidentally cut some hairs. A seam ripper is a better option for undoing braids.
5. Pulling Comb
A Pulling comb is used to thin and shorten the mane by pulling it.
It has short teeth, making it easy to wrap hairs around it for pulling.
You just wrap a few strands of hair to pull a little bit at a time. If you pull too many hairs, it will hurt the horse.
6. Thinning Shears
Thinning shears are used to thin the mane. The shears have teeth on one of the sides, which enable you only to cut part of the hairs.
You can remove excess volume from thick manes by cutting the hairs near the root.
This is an alternative method to the traditional mane pulling. But the hairs that are cut will quickly stick back up along the crest, and the result is not as neat and does not last as long as with the mane pulling.
7. Mane Razor Comb
A Mane razor comb is used for shortening and thinning the mane.
Grab a section of hair, backcomb it until you are holding just a few hairs. Then use the razor to cut off the ends.
This razor comb has serrated teeth, and therefore it doesn’t give a blunt edge like scissors.
It creates an angled edge, making the ends more natural than having them cut straight across.
8. Seam Ripper
A Seam ripper can be used to undo the braids.
They easily cut off the stitched yarn and rubber bands without accidentally cutting the hair.
Slide the sharp end under the thread and then push it up to cut.
9. Latch hook
A Latch hook is used to pull up the mane braids.
Insert the latch hook at the top of the braid and push it down to the bottom.
Then slip the yarn (that is hanging on the bottom of the braid) into the loop of the latch tool.
Finally, pull the latch tool back up, bringing the bottom of the braid to the top.
Some people prefer to use a large needle to pull up the braids by inserting the yarn through the needle’s eye and then slipping the needle up along the braid until it comes out at the top.
Besides the tools mentioned above, you will also need some horse braiding consumable items and equipment to support the braiding process, such as the following:
Additional items you may need
Additionally you may need items that will support your braiding process such as:
Yarn is used to tie off braids. Alternatively, you can also use a waxed thread.
Yarn can come in many colors. Usually, a color that matches the mane is used.
However, you may prefer to use a different color. But in this case, the yarn will stand out and draw attention to the braids. If the braids are not well done, the mistakes will be more visible.
Small rubber bands are used to secure the braids in many ways depending on the braid style.
Many colors are available, and you can choose a color similar to the horse´s mane or a color that is different and stands out.
Rubber bands can be used as an alternative to yarn.
A Spray bottle is used to dampen hair, making it easier to braid.
You can fill it with water, or if you want a better result, you can use a commercial braiding spray.
If your horse is sensitive to the spray’s sound, you should use a braiding mousse instead, also commercially available.
You can also dampen a sponge or cloth and then pass it on the mane hair.
A Step ladder is a portable step or set of steps that can be used for reaching the mane on bigger horses.
Place the ladder next to your horse and step up until you are at a comfortable height that will not tire your arms and also allows you to be at eye level with the mane so you can make the braids come out neatly.
A Braiding Apron is an apron designed with several sized pockets to keep your braiding tools at reach while leaving your hands free for braiding.
A Horse Hood, also called Sleazy Hood or slinky hood, is a stretchy hood that covers the neck and protects the braids by preventing the horse from rubbing them out.
A horse can be braided the night before the competition, and by using the hood, the braids will be protected until the next morning.
Now that you know which horse braiding tools to use, you can start braiding!
Remember always to practice safety when interacting with horses. Some are very patient and don’t mind being braided, while others are more impatient.
It would be best if you started with a trustworthy and calm horse. Afterward, as you gain more practice, you can move on to more restless horses.
Braiding can be a fun activity, and both you and your horse can enjoy it. It can also help strengthen the bond between you and your horse.
Braiding takes a while to learn, but the skill can be mastered with enough practice. Remember that “Practice makes perfect,” so practice a lot, and you will eventually be able to make beautiful braids.
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If you would like to see how to braid a horse, check out this tutorial to see how to braid step by step.