The reasons why humans have braided horse’s hair have changed massively over time. It used to be more for practical reasons to help with identifying horses or keeping horse’s hair out of harms way while working. While we still plait hair for practical reasons now, it is also done for aesthetic reasons.
How did braiding start? Once horses became domesticated, they were mainly used as work animals, so the intention of braids were to keep their mane out of the way of their eyes and to also make sure that they didn’t get caught on any machinery, farming equipment or riding equipment.
And for a slightly different take, in folklore fairies would visit the horses in the middle of the night and tie “elf knots” in their hair.
Why braid your horse’s mane? Braiding your horse’s mane will keep your horse’s mane nice and healthy and prevents it from getting tangled up or caught on riding equipment. It also helps to keep it clean as it makes it harder for dirt and dust to get into it. A main reason why braiding is done is for show jumping, dressage and eventing competitions as it gives a professional and neat look.
A few things you will need are plaiting spray or simply just water to make it easier to brush through the hair and hair bands that match the colours of your horse’s mane. Also, be sure not to braid too tightly, as the stress on the hair follicles can cause damage. Something to aim towards is to have an odd number of plaits, for a more aesthetically pleasing look.
Button braids are mainly used for dressage. It keeps the horse’s mane in a neat and tight style and it highlights the muscles across the horse’s topline so that the movement of the precise muscle during the competition is more visible.
There are two methods you can use to do button braids, those are folding and rolling. The folding method requires you to fold each braid in half twice and making sure it is resting firmly on the crest of the neck once folded twice. Then secure it tightly with a band. The rolling method is an alternative method to use if your horses mane is varying lengths and thickness, once you have plaited the main, roll the braid under itself and up towards the crest. Again, secure it tightly with a rubber band.
The running braid is one of the easiest and quickest braids to do if you want a simple solution fast! It also looks great. It is a French braid that runs the full length of the horse’s neck. You might do a running braid if the horse’s main is getting long and in the way of if the temperature is hot, it is a good way to cool your horse down.
Start at the pole and grab a section of hair then separate that section into 3 pieces and start with a regular braid. Each time you cross the hair section over the braid that’s closest to the crest, add hair into the braid add more loose hair into one side of the braid. Follow the arch of the neck and make sure to keep the braid close to the crest for a neat look. Finally, tie the end up with a band.
Hogging a horse’s mane means to shave it off completely or cut it very short. The reasons for doing this are to make what could be a messy looking main much neater. Some horses may hate the process of being plaited so keeping the mane shaven is a good alternative. There are also many health reasons for doing this, it can get very hot and moist under a long mane which can cause infections, mites and much more.
Some people see hogging as unnatural; however, it was never natural for wild horses to have long manes and by cutting the mane short it doesn’t cause any harm or pain to your horse.
Check out haircare products at Rideaway to make grooming your horse’s hair easier!
If you enjoyed reading this, you may also like How To Groom Your Horse.