Beautiful Braids

Beautiful Braids

Still editing photos from over the weekend, but I’m going to have to step on it because I’m heading out of town for a long weekend to go home to North Carolina.  Simonista is getting some training rides and a lesson taken by a friend while I spend some quality time with family.  The blog won’t go silent though, as I will have some Pin Oak goodness and other posts ready for y’all.



Say what you want about hunter braids, but they are beautiful.  Sure, they take a ton of time to do and it’s an expensive (if you can’t do it yourself) and strictly traditional practice… but tradition is a huge part of horse showing.



Seeing a hunter without braids just looks incomplete to me.  I’d love to see a time where this returned to the unrated shows.



Braiding isn’t a magic unicorn kind of skill, even though some people are naturally better at it than others.  It’s just something that takes careful practice.  Seriously – anyone can braid.



I couldn’t braid nearly this well at the moment because I’m out of practice, but with some time I’d be back to passable braids.



For me, part of being an equestrian who shows is carrying horsemanship through to the show ring.  Knowing how to braid is part of that for me.  Eventers and dressage folks seem really good at this DIY aspect of horse showing… us hunter/jumper folk need to step it up!


What do you think in regards to braiding?  I think most of us can agree that they’re pretty, but is it something you’d be interested in learning how to do?


Is it something you wish you’d see at all the shows again… or too much of a hassle?  Let’s discuss while we look at the pretties!

46 thoughts on “Beautiful Braids

  1. So pretty. I’d like to learn more, but Copper (the only one I’ d have a reason to braid) rubbed his mane out! We’re probably going to have to roach it if we want to show this year…

  2. I enjoy braiding and can’t imagine showing without it. I’ve had a lot of fun learning Dutch rosette braids for our dressage show this weekend!

  3. I love it, and I love braiding. I braid at unrated events too, partially because it does so much for Connor’s look with the contrast between the light mane and chestnut body. It also is therapeutic for me, a lot like meditation. I love repetitive motions like that.

  4. I absolutely love braiding and do it no matter how low level the show I’m attending is. I can’t imagine going to a show without braiding.

  5. I was just talking about braids last night, I’ve been wanting to figure out how to do the dutch/cobra dressage braids. Henry’s mane is too short for them for the next show, but I should have enough length for the one after that to try them. I’m just really glad that no one does hunter braids for eventing, I don’t have the patience! 😉

          1. I saw a REALLY good video on youtube the other day that actually worked for me… before that I’d never been able to get them to come out right.

  6. I really like braids – but Tristan’s mane is so long he can only do a running braid, and I’m not great at getting it tight enough to stay put.

    I had a friend at a previous barn who had paid her way through A circuit shows by braiding for the first 3 hours of every day. She did the most unbelievable braids!

  7. It has been EONS since I have been out of the A circuit and it’s always interesting to see the changes. For instance, when I was showing (in the ’90’s and early 2000’s), the tail braids were looped back up and tied into the braid at the bottom of the tail bone. I love the look of it wrapped around the tail.

    I haven’t braided in so long, Chloe is probably going to look like her mane was accosted by an 6 year old…granted there are probably several 6 year olds who have mastered the braiding skill much better than me…

  8. I love braiding. I taught myself how to do it, and spent the whole winter of 2014 working on getting good at French braiding. My specialty is big fluffy Dutch braids for dressage, making the neck look bigger and fancier than it is (important when you show a thoroughbred!!). I’ve even considered selling my services as a braider, but that seems like too much hassle. I have braided for friends, and done my trainer’s horse, though.

    I think braids are an important part of showing. Whether “traditional” or not. In dressage, they help show off both sides of the horse’s neck and present a more uniform look to the judge, which helps the judge tell if your horse is working properly. I’ve scribed for judges who were negative about lack of braiding turnout. They didn’t count down for it, but remarked that they wished the person had shown more care for their overall turnout.

    One thing I’m okay with not braiding? Forelocks. Those things suck.

  9. I’m actually a fairly crap braider, but then again- Foster’s mane is so durn thick and wonky, it takes ages. I have just invested in some quick braid though and I hope that will help me improve my braiding skillz!

  10. One of my close friends braids Stampede for me. She does the most amazing tight braids. The most interesting thing to me when I started showing again after college was that my friend was taught how to put the braid up differently than I was.
    I am actually the slacker who doesn’t braid P when I use him for just a flat class. Also on my circuit no one braids for indoor shows, even if they are rated (B or C). I’ve always thought that was a bit odd.

  11. I used to pay for my horse habit by braiding, when I was much younger and could manage to stay up half the night and then horse show. Thank you for the eye-candy. Dressage braids make me sad. I still want to put 34 braids in his head!

  12. That’s definitely at the top of my “horse skillz to learn” list. I’m a pretty passable braider of human hair, so it’s just figuring out how to tie them up and get them nice and neat.
    I have to say, I’m glad we don’t braid for local unrated shows. In my area these shows tend to be pretty informal, and it’s nice being able to treat it more as an off-site schooling opportunity without worrying about taking the time or money to get the horses braided. At a rated show though? Definitely braids, every time.

  13. Your photos are so pretty! I love all the braids. Wish I had that talent. I can’t even braid human hair very well. I’d be curious what the going rate is on braiding in various parts of the country.

  14. Actually braids served a purpose, they kept the mane out of the riders eyes, and kept the mane and tail from being tangled in the brush when jumping hedges or galloping thru forests. I always braid. Sometimes even just for my lessons. It’s good practice and shows attention to details. It’s all about the details!

  15. Oh yes yes yes… braids braids braids. LOVE BRAIDS. Love and neatness and loveliness of braids. I used to suck at braids… then I decided I needed to get better, so I practiced and practices. Now I can do the meanest set of buttons you ever saw, although my hunter braids still suck. But, that’s because I never use them and never practice – I could probably be good at those too if I put my mind to it.
    Admittedly it is currently all a moot point because O is roached. She has a wild, annoying side-to-side flopping mane that was thick in some parts and thin in others, and I couldn’t stand the mess of it every day… so off it came. It helps disguise her neck a little as it grows in, and it looks neat and trim and tidy 100% of the time.

  16. Love braids…and western bands, of course! 😉 I don’t know how to braid for hunters, but I can manage a decent banding job. I totally do that for unrated shows – I think it is good to learn turnout for big shows at smaller shows so you can work out any issues/hone your skills!

  17. I think braids look super classy and it’s on my list of things to learn to do well! At the moment, I pay a teenager to braid for all the recognized shows.

  18. I’m mixed about braiding. I love the way it looks but I always seem to be rushed for time at shows, and I’m not super good at doing them. Maybe if I were better/faster at it I would love it more? That said, a nicely braided horse always has that extra bit of polish over an unbraided horse!

  19. I love the look of braids and need to spend some quality time learning/getting good at it. I’m great at banding and used to band 3-6 horses before big shows to make extra cash. Whip out 75 miniature ponytails in a mane in a few hours? No prob!
    However, I am TERRIBLE at putting in fake tails. Iz an issue.

  20. your photographs are lovely! i love the look of braids too but have honestly never really tried. i do a running braid in my mare’s mane bc she looks very nice when it’s fresh… but i have yet to figure out how to get it to last – especially through a jumping round. starting to think it’s just not possible… would love to know if there are any better braiding techniques for horses with long manes?

  21. Hunter braids are like a balm on my OCD. I learned to braid as a kid, but never kept it up, and I am more than happy to leave checks for braiders at shows (not that I’ve been in years, or ever showed in hunters much anyway). They are a hard working group! Jeez, you can probably just paypal the braiders now.

  22. Gorgeous photos. I love the look of braids. It tells the judge you put in the extra effort in presenting your horse to them. Sometimes that is the one thing that gets you the ribbon.

    Driving they only require the mane to be braided. I braid for lower level shows as well. Why not use them to get in the practice?

  23. I would love to learn how to braid because but I never show and take lessons at an arabian/half-arabian barn where cutting the manes or tails of any of the horses is pretty much forbidden. Looking at the pretty pictues will have to suffice for now.

  24. I love braids.. But I cheat because I’m Australian, and for some reason it’s passable. I hog/roach my horses mane and braid his forelock and tail. Looks a lot better than incorrectly spaced braids that don’t suit the horse they’re on!

  25. I used to be really good at hunter braids, it was how I paid for shows! But sadly I’m out of practice. I can do a mean button braid though. 😉

  26. I love braids! I used to be pretty good at them, but haven’t tried in years. My favorite though is a really great braided tail-love that look!

  27. I love hunter braids! They’re so pretty. But I have to say… I don’t mind paying someone else to do it. For a while, I thought it would be a great way to make some extra cash, but now… meh.

  28. I love hunter braids, I love button braids, I love dutch braids, I love roached manes, I love pulled manes, I love long manes. Ditto to tails. LOL I JUST LOVE PONY HAIR EVERY WHICH WAY!

  29. I love braids! I can do ok braids, but I would rather pay someone to take the stress out of them not looking good enough/ me taking too long to do them.

  30. (Hope I’m welcome to comment even though I don’t show) LOVE the beautiful chestnut tail!
    I like my geldings’ tail done nicely for lessons & usually put a running braid into the base of his mane to let him catch a cool breeze on his neck.

  31. So snazzy but those are tiny balls of perfection and must take some amount of practice & patience!
    My fav is plaiting tails – sadly I don’t show & have no reason to braid. So i contend myself playing with Nancy’s lion mane mwuahahahah I’m not taming that suckah

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