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Horse Braid Types
 By Winniefield Park   •   10th Mar 2018   •   4,190 views   •   0 comments
Braids in horseís manes and tails arenít just pretty, they have a practical purpose too. They prevent the mane becoming tangled in the reins, flying in the riderís face, and keeping the mane itself tangle free. For horses shown with natural manes and tails, braids can help keep the mane and tail from breakage and tangles, and wrapped, help keep the horseís mane and tail clean. There are many types of braids, and their use depends on the type of horse and the discipline they are used for.

Braids or Plaits
Endurance riders or those of us who want to keep our horseís mane looking nice might put in simple pigtail-like braids. These keep the mane out of the way, but long so the horse has its natural defense against flies when they are out on pasture. They can also be used to keep the mane hairs from breaking and train the mane to lie on one side of the neck. Some gaited breeds like Tennessee Walking Horses may be shown with a small section of mane and the forelock in long braids embellished with ribbon.


Hunter braids
Most of us are familiar with hunter braids. In the field, they serve the practical purpose of keeping the mane out of the riderís way. These can be bumped up or made to lie flat. Depending on the thickness of the horseís mane and the top line of the neck, the braids can be made thicker or thinner. Most people will put about a dozen braids in, while sometimes over thirty may be put in. Traditionally mares, geldings, and stallions would wear a specific number of braids, or an odd or even number, but there is no specific number that should be put in now.


Dressage Braids
Dressage braids or button braids are similar to hunter braids but they rounder, a bit larger and there probably wonít be as many of them. To accent a horseís neck, they are often bound in white. Button braids are also used on light driving horses, while heavy horses have more ornate up-dos that include braids, ribbons, and other embellishments.


Western Braids and Banding
Western horses might not be braided but banded. Banding is separating out small sections of the main and finding them neatly with red or elastic. It's done to keep the main neat and out of the riders way. Depending on the thickness of the band and the shape of the horse's neck they can be used to accentuate a good neck or on a neck that isn't quite as perfect. Horses that are being shown both English and western may be shown in braids only. Sometimes white elastics or thread is used to bind the bands or braids, or some people prefer them to match. It depends on how much attention you want to draw to the horseís mane and neck. In some disciplines, horseís manes are left natural or simply shortened and thinned.


Curtain Braids
Curtain braids are also called continental braids and arenít really braids at all but a way of binding the mane hairs. Itís similar to the banding done in the western show ring, but strands of mane are connected, then split, then connected again to make an interesting diamond macrame-like pattern. These work well on manes that are too thick and long for flat or button braids.


French Braids
French or running braids can be braided down your horse's neck in either a single or double row. This is effective on horses that have manes that are too thick for traditional braids. French braids do tend to pull out more easily than other types of braids, or if braided with the horseís neck stretched down, may become bunchy when the horse lifts its head.

French braids are used on tails too. And they are used to club driving horse tails so they don't get snarled in the reins and harness. Youíll see draft horse tails braided and clubbed, often decorated with ribbon rosettes, flower buds or tassels to match the way the mane is decorated.

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