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Old 05-16-2009, 06:54 PM  
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English braiding?

Does anyone know why English horses get their manes braided for showing? How did this tradition start?
I'm just wondering as we just spent 3 1/2 hours in the barn doing Satin's mane for the show tomorrow and I'd be happy to never have to do it again! She has very course wooly hair and it's a monster to work with. We braided with yarn for the first time today. All in all I hope it works better than the rubberbands did last time. It went okay but is just very time consuming.
I wish she rode western!
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Old 05-16-2009, 07:26 PM  
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This may help explain, not that it makes your fingers feel any better. Source: Wikipedia

Braiding was first used on Thoroughbreds used in the hunt field, to keep the blowing mane from getting tangled in the reins or rider's hands and to show off the horse's neck. Colder-blooded animals had their manes roached. Therefore, braiding came to be a sign of "blood" in the horse, and that he was a fine-quality animal.

Today, braiding is performed to show off the neck, accentuating the top line when the horse is moving or jumping. Braiding may be used to hide conformation faults of the neck (for example, a relatively short neck can be braided with a greater number of smaller braids, making it look longer). Braiding can be used to train the mane to lie on one side of the neck, if half falls on one side and half falls on the other.

Traditionally, the mane is braided on the right side of the neck. This is still the standard for show hunters in the United States and eventers, although dressage horses are commonly braided on either side. It was also traditional in the USA that male horses would have an odd number of braids, and even number for mares.[1] However, this rule is rarely, if ever, followed by modern braiders.


Types of Braids

An "Andalusian" or French braided mane on an Andalusian horse.The most common braids in both the United States and the United Kingdom are button braids, which are round and usually larger (thus fewer in number) than hunter, or "flat" braids. In the UK, show horses of all types are plaited with between 9 and 15 plaits, similar to the American "button braid". An odd number of plaits is traditional, although judges have become more relaxed about this in recent years. The number of plaits can be increased or decreased, depending on whether the rider wants the horse's neck to look longer or shorter.

Hunter braids or flat braids are smaller, with as many as 20-30 on a neck, and they are the only braid considered traditional in US hunt seat competition. They are usually not seen in other disciplines, although they are permissible for dressage.

Knob braids are a variation on hunter braids, involving pushing part of the braid up to create a "knob" at the top. They are usually seen in dressage competition, though are also popular in other flat classes, particularly at breed shows, and.

The French braid, also called an "Andalusian" braid, is braided along the crest of the neck. It is used on long-maned horses, and is usually seen either when a baroque horse breed competes in dressage, or in hunter and dressage classes for horses that are otherwise required to show with a long, full mane.

The Continental braid, also called a "macrame braid" is also useful for long-maned horses, and creates a "net" in the mane. It isn't a "braid" per se, as it is usually made up of simple knots or even simply created with rubber bands or yarn, but is periodically viewed as stylish in some dressage and flat classes, particularly those in breed shows for horses that have naturally long manes.

The scalloped mane is a less common form of braiding, where the braids are not pulled up in half under itself, but rather pulled up under the braid that is two down from it (toward the withers). It is seen most often in hunt seat, dressage, or in the jumpers, although it is not as popular as the other forms of braid. It is useful for manes that may look bulky in traditional braiding styles because they are a bit too thick or a bit too long.


Pleasure riding: usually the mane is kept natural or pulled, as preferred by the rider.

Hunt seat: the mane is pulled to about 4 inches, and braided with "hunter braids" for all important competition (usually on the right side). When the mane is braided, the forelock should also be braided.

Show jumping: the mane may be braided (usually with "button braids", although a nicely pulled mane is acceptable (about 3.5-5 inches in length). The forelock may or may not be braided.

Dressage: the mane is pulled to 3.5-5 inches and braided for all recognized competition, braiding is seen on either side of the neck. The forelock is sometimes left unbraided.

Eventing: pulled to about 3.5-5 inches. Braided for dressage with "knob" or "button braids" (although not always at the lower levels). Usually left unbraided for cross-country, as the rider may need to grab it. May be braided for stadium (usually at the higher levels).

Western pleasure: usually pulled to 3.5-4.5 inched and "banded" (rubber bands placed around small sections of mane) for stock breeds such as the American Quarter Horse, left unpulled and natural for other breeds

Reining and Cutting: usually natural, forelock may be braided.

Stock seat Equitation: Same as western pleasure

Saddle seat: Natural, although a few long braids (usually forelock and 1 or 2 in the mane) are permitted on gaited breeds and on American Saddlebreds, usually with a colorful ribbon attached that complements the rider's clothing.

Three-gaited Saddlebreds have roached manes; in five-gaited Saddlebreds the mane is left long, with a long bridle path.

Fox hunting: pulled to about 4" and braided, usually on the right side

Combined driving: Usually styled according to breed. Pulled and braided for sport horses.

Polo: roached, to keep it out of the way of the mallet.

Flat racing or Steeplechase: either pulled or braided

Harness Racing: pulled or natural, Standardbreds often with a long bridle path

Endurance riding: usually left natural, although it varies according to breed


Breed

Button braids Certain breeds are often expected to have a specific styling to their manes.

Baroque breeds, such as the Andalusian, Lusitano, and Friesian, usually have their manes left natural, and as long as possible. Though in some horse show competition, the manes may put in French braids down the crest of the neck.

Saddlebred: Usually left long and natural, with "5-gaited" and pleasure horses having braiding in the forelock and first lock of mane. Roached for "3-Gaited" park horses.

National Show Horse: long and natural, with long (6-8") bridle path

Arabian and part-Arabian: long, unbraided, and natural in all events, with a long (6-8") bridle path, except for horses shown in hunt seat classes. If the horse shows in multiple disciplines where a long mane is generally mandatory, the mane is French braided for dressage, show hack, or hunt seat competition, but if the animal is shown only as a hunter, jumper or in dressage, the mane may be pulled and braided.

Connemara: pulled 3.5-4" and may be braided

Morgan: long and natural, braiding only in dressage and hunt seat classes. Usually has a long (6-8") bridle path

Stock horse type (includes Quarter Horse, Paint horse, Appaloosa): 3.5-4.5" pulled mane, usually banded for Western pleasure and halter, braided for hunter competition. Usually kept long and natural for reining and cutting. Length varies for rodeo competition, often left long in some speed events, sometimes roached for roping events so that rope does not tangle in mane.

Warmbloods: 3.5-5" pulled mane, usually braided (either side). Bridle path 1-2" in length

Thoroughbred: pulled 3.5-4.5" with short (1-2") bridle path. May be braided depending on discipline.

Shetland Pony: long mane with 4-6" bridle path, may have a lock of mane braided

Icelandic horse: nowadays manes are left untrimmed, but traditionally the thick manes were cut to an even length of approximately 20-30 cm in early spring, by winter it had grown long enough to shield the horses' eyes from snows. Bridle path clipping is inappropriate.

Fjord horse: Mane is usually roached in the USA, though not cut extremely close to the neck.

Pulling

A shortened or "pulled" mane on a racehorse.The mane is often pulled to shorten and thin it. It gives a much neater appearance than simply trimming it with scissors, which does not thin the mane enough to braid and creates an unnatural line. Pulling also makes the mane more manageable, as a pulled mane is less likely to get tangled than a natural one.

Most horses do not object to mane pulling, and willingly stand for the process. To make it more comfortable for the horse, a groom should pull the mane out of the crest in an upwards direction, rather than sideways or down. An application of Orajel on the roots of the mane can help desensitize the area during the pulling process. It is also recommended that pulling is performed right after exercise, when it is thought that the mane comes out more easily because the pores are open. Using a mane pulling device such as the ManePuller may also be considered because it tends to be quicker and therefore less stressful for the horse (and groom).

In some cases, a horse is very sensitive and may constantly toss its head or try to bite if the groom attempts to pull the mane. In this case, only a few hairs should be taken out at a time, with the pulling process spanning over several days, and the groom should try to keep up with the process so that the horse will not have to endure a long session right before competition.

Competitors in a hurry sometime use thinning shears to trim the mane and give the appearance of having been pulled. However, the effect only lasts a couple of weeks at most before the cut hairs begin to grow out and stick up straight into the air. Thus, this method is not advised. Pulled manes also grow out, but take longer and when the hair begins to grow, it is less stiff and tends to blend more easily with the existing mane.

Roaching (USA) or Hogging (UK)

Roached mane and forelockRoaching or hogging is when the mane, and sometimes forelock, is completely shaven. This is usually done if a horse's mane is quite ragged, or for certain disciplines such as polo, polocrosse, and calf roping, to keep the mane out of the way. Cobs can be shown with a roached mane and it is also common to roach the mane for certain breeds. In Spain, breeders commonly roach the mane of mares and foals. The same applies to the Swiss "Freiberger" horses. The American Saddlebred "3-Gaited" horse is often shown with a roached mane, while the "5-Gaited" Saddlebred is shown with a full mane.

If a mane is roached, it will take about 6-8 months for it to stop sticking straight up in the air and lay over onto the neck, and a year or more to return to a natural length. For this reason, manes that are roached usually need to be kept that way, though occasionally roaching a damaged mane and allowing it to grow out evenly is effective as a last resort for a mane that has been partly torn out, badly tangled or otherwise cannot be restored to a smooth condition.
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Old 05-16-2009, 09:30 PM  
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HA! She's a Morgan so we shouldn't have to braid!
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:46 AM  
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HA! She's a Morgan so we shouldn't have to braid!
unfortunately i believe breed-specific braiding only applies to breed shows.
at my barn there are two andalusians who compete in the hunter circuit (strange, i know. but they are quite good). one competes with hunter braids, and one is left long in a french braid thing. because hunter classes are judged on the overall look of the round and horse and rider, not time to get around the course, the one with the mane left long in an untraditional braid will never place.
however showing in classes where there isnt a set standard for how the mane should be and is judged solely on rider and horse, not appearance, i dont see it being a problem. of course if placing is not an issue to you, go ahead and leave the mane.
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:37 AM  
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One of the issues that we have with braiding is that we don't want to cut the mane so short. She's a Morgan and with her frizzy hair would just look odd. It would stick straight up all over. It isn't long enough to french braid either, I don't believe. I'm going to check out the competetion at the show today and see what they are doing now. I know that many are not braiding tails anymore (which is a shame because that looks pretty) but I can't recall how the manes are being prepped.
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:53 AM  
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One of the issues that we have with braiding is that we don't want to cut the mane so short. She's a Morgan and with her frizzy hair would just look odd. It would stick straight up all over. It isn't long enough to french braid either, I don't believe. I'm going to check out the competetion at the show today and see what they are doing now. I know that many are not braiding tails anymore (which is a shame because that looks pretty) but I can't recall how the manes are being prepped.
With a mane like that it would need to be pulled, not cut. If it still sticks up then braid it over for a few days. Using a sleazy helps it lay flat if you'd rather not braid it. Unfortunately, as your daughter wants to show english, you're going to have to braid. The thinner the mane, the easier to braid, hence pulling. I have a similar problem. My gelding hates having his mane pulled and, since I care nothing about showing, I've just been cutting it. The lady who's been riding him really wants to show and his mane is ridiculous to braid. Once it grows out a bit I'm going to teach her how to pull it, poor horse and poor her. She's going to have some sore fingers.
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Old 05-17-2009, 07:02 AM  
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Morgan hunters are still braided at the breed shows. If they show in other disciplines then it's a french braid if they are strictly hunters it's usually pulled and buttoned.
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Old 05-17-2009, 07:19 AM  
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My best advice for braiding is practice, practice, practice. I never, ever take a horse to a show without braids. I would feel naked if I entered the ring on an unbraided horse. I just think that first impression is so important. Braiding tells the judge "I put in the effort to impress you, so look at me!" I actually enjoy braiding now, but that wasn't the case when I was younger (and not so good at it)

Once you braid a few (OK, a lot ) you will get your times down and your fingers will be stronger and tougher. I can finish a (properly pulled!) mane from braiding down (with yarn) to buttoning up in 30 minutes. (I do 4-5 horses for my students these days and still really enjoy it - but maybe I'm a bit of a masochist) Seriously, though, it is really satisfying when you get to see the finished product. You can also use braiding time to visualize your ride and get psyched up for competition. You can make braiding part of your "suiting up" routine and it tells your subconscious, "It's show time!"

Sorry so lengthy - just a detail that I'm passionate about!
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Old 05-18-2009, 07:14 AM  
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Well, we did put in the effort. HAHA I didn't have a latch hook (couldn't find mine from crafting days) but have since ordered two. We used crochet hooks to pull the yarn through. I know my daughter well enough to know that she won't feel right about leaving it unbraided. Notice I said I ordered two! She'll be right there with me braiding as I'm not the one showing.
I don't know anything about pulling and would fear just making things worse in that respect.
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Old 05-19-2009, 09:08 PM  
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I show on the Morgan circuit and yes, you do braid Morgan hunters. If the mane is long or natural, it is usually a running French braid, although I have seen the lattice braids on occasion. If the mane is pulled, then the button braids are usually used. Tails are braided also.
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Old 05-20-2009, 06:30 AM  
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I show on the Morgan circuit and yes, you do braid Morgan hunters. If the mane is long or natural, it is usually a running French braid, although I have seen the lattice braids on occasion. If the mane is pulled, then the button braids are usually used. Tails are braided also.
I'm going to attempt a French Braid to see how it works, but I have ordered some latch hooks if I can't get the french braid to hold. Court braids her tail and it always looks gorgeous.

Is your Morgan's mane course and wooly? Satin is black and has african-american type hair. It's so unruly!
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Old 05-20-2009, 07:16 AM  
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My best advice for braiding is practice, practice, practice. I never, ever take a horse to a show without braids. I would feel naked if I entered the ring on an unbraided horse. I just think that first impression is so important. Braiding tells the judge "I put in the effort to impress you, so look at me!" I actually enjoy braiding now, but that wasn't the case when I was younger (and not so good at it)

Once you braid a few (OK, a lot ) you will get your times down and your fingers will be stronger and tougher. I can finish a (properly pulled!) mane from braiding down (with yarn) to buttoning up in 30 minutes. (I do 4-5 horses for my students these days and still really enjoy it - but maybe I'm a bit of a masochist) Seriously, though, it is really satisfying when you get to see the finished product. You can also use braiding time to visualize your ride and get psyched up for competition. You can make braiding part of your "suiting up" routine and it tells your subconscious, "It's show time!"

Sorry so lengthy - just a detail that I'm passionate about!
Or... if you are like me and simply cannot get the braids to look good.... you pay $35-$60 every time you show ... But at least they look professional versus my sloppy braids. I can band like a fool, but my braids look like puke
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Old 05-20-2009, 07:37 AM  
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We only do small local show so there is no way I'm paying to have her horse braided. She doesn't do showmanship so perfection isn't necessary. We do our best and that's what's important. It's just so darn time consuming.
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Old 05-20-2009, 08:46 AM  
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I feel your pain....literally. My 2 yo has a very thick mane and he can't be banded unless you pull it, which he hates, tolerates, but hates. And when his hair is the proper length, it stands straight up in a mohawk unless we band it down, talk about a pain...so during the winter, we let it grow out, to make it easier to pull in the spring, when shows start up again...takes a good 2 hours solid to pull his mane to the proper thickness and length...usually do it over a weeks time...haven't done anything with him yet on the english side, but I'd imagine braiding will be the same...pull, pull, pull some more...anybody got a thin mane they'd like additional hair for??? Ries has plenty to share
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:22 AM  
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My daughter show her Arabian at local & 4H shows and does either the scalloped braids or a lattice braid (not really a braid). She gets alot of compliments on both and they are both easier to do than the button braids with longer manes. I like the scallop and she likes the lattice.
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Old 05-20-2009, 11:06 AM  
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I used to do scallop braids with my grey Arab (many years ago!) They were so pretty, even if they made him look a bit like a mare. They went over well at Arab shows and open shows, but were frowned at in the hunter shows.
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Old 05-20-2009, 11:37 AM  
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I'm going to attempt a French Braid to see how it works, but I have ordered some latch hooks if I can't get the french braid to hold. Court braids her tail and it always looks gorgeous.

Is your Morgan's mane course and wooly? Satin is black and has african-american type hair. It's so unruly!
The Morgans I have shown on the hunter circuit have had thick and bushy manes. I kept the sections of hair small, braided very close to the crest and waited until the last possible minute to do the braid. Any time you do a French braid, the braid will loosen as the horse moves around so it is not something you can do overnight and leave it in, I usually do it about 15-20 minutes out from heading to the warmup ring and keep the horse crosstied until taken to the warmup.
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Old 05-20-2009, 05:09 PM  
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Braiding was first used on Thoroughbreds used in the hunt field, to keep the blowing mane from getting tangled in the reins or rider's hands.
I can vouch for this being true! My little one has a long mane & it does interfere(sp?) with the riens. It also comes back on the seat of the saddle (if we're going english) & get's caught underneath of...well, let's just say me...& it rips her hair out!! Unless we're on a hunt (in which case I have to braid), I just throw an elastic in it & make like a little bun type thing to keep it wrangled.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:34 PM  
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I know it's time consuming and a pain dealing with those frizzy thick manes.

If you are unable to pull the mane on the horse and you are forced to make it longer than normal... I would fold the braid and extra time when doing the braids. As for the yarn I braid it into the braid and then use a needle(like big plastic needle big enough eye for the yarn or string). I find this way easier than using those hooks. But that's my personal preference.

Good luck with the show and let us know how you did. We would love to see pictures too!
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Old 05-21-2009, 06:27 AM  
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I know it's time consuming and a pain dealing with those frizzy thick manes.

If you are unable to pull the mane on the horse and you are forced to make it longer than normal... I would fold the braid and extra time when doing the braids. As for the yarn I braid it into the braid and then use a needle(like big plastic needle big enough eye for the yarn or string). I find this way easier than using those hooks. But that's my personal preference.

Good luck with the show and let us know how you did. We would love to see pictures too!
I posted pics from her last show under the thread "Happy Show Girl". She got 2 fourth place ribbons and a 1st place in her hardest class. She shows again on Saturday and will be showing in crossrails for the 1st time in a place we have never been to. She's so nervous as Satin has been the queen of run-outs lately. It's a children's show so hopefully she will relax and just have fun!

When we braided with the yarn I didn't have a latch hook and hubby couldn't find one so he bought two crochet hooks. They worked okay but I thought the latch hooks would be easier. We did fold them over an extra time also. It made for bigger "buttons" but she's a big chunky pony so it fit her fine. They would probably look odd on the taller, thinner horses but they worked for Satin!
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