Show Horses and their Beautiful Mane Braids
Traditionally, horses and ponies to be shown in English styles of riding and driving are braided for horse shows. The braiding styles are absolutely beautiful pieces of art and many hours of love and practice have gone into producing them.
Spectators at fairs and competitions are often kept at a distance from the horses for safety reasons, so here’s your chance to see up-close and personal what the braids in the horses manes and tails look like. Here are a few styles of mane and tail braids I have done over the years. Enjoy!
Copyright note: Please ask for my permission before distributing any of these photos. They are my own work and craft.
The Short Manes
Aptly named, this is the most commonly seen style of braids seen in the Show Hunter ring. Occasionally referred to as Flat Braids or Bumped Braids - though those terms oddly contradict one another.
This Hunter style of braiding can easily be transformed into Dressage Braids by using white yarn for a subtle highlight to the horse or pony's neck-line, or by using white tape for a bolder statement.
are beautiful and delicate. They are used in a variety of show rings and make for a very elegant neckline. In the right lighting they throw a pretty, laced shadow on the neck of the horse.
are simply neat, tidy and the most authentic style of any mane braid. They are truly a classic: seen in many disciplines of English riding, they are really making a comeback here in the states! Traditionally sewn into the mane with needle and thread, the Button Braid has taken on few different forms over time by the use braiding elastics or yarn to achieve a similar look. Therefore, this rounded style has inherited several names: French Knots, English Braids, Hunting Braids, Australian Rosettes, and probably many more! Seems as though each country would like a go at it.
The Long Manes
Sometimes referred to as a Running Braid or Spanish Braid, this style can be sported in competition as well as being a fast way to tie their mane up for riding on hot days. The French Braid can be done in a variety of ways and done tight to the neckline or draped. Shown here are: the original, the Inverted French Braid and my own Alternative Braid which is perfect for the extra long manes of the equine world.
is a pretty option for long manes allowing them to be competition-worthy yet flow freely and show their beautiful length. Because it is not really a braid, it is often referred to as a Diamond Weave or Woven Mane.
I hope you have enjoyed my tour of beautifully braided manes!
There are a lot more styles not pictured here. That I will try to add to a future article. Interested in the beautiful tails? See...Show Horses and their Beautiful Tail Braids
If you already show horses, braiding is a great skill to learn. You will not only to save you money by not having to hire a professional braider, but you can also make money by offering your services to the horse-showing public!
If you are interested in learning these braiding skills and other show grooming tips, please request it below and also check out my blog,The Mane Alternative. I will be adding articles often with show-season upon us!
...And yes, you CAN learn to braid! I have taught hundreds of people who thought they were “all thumbs.” Some have walked right into the show-ring the same day with their own braiding! Pictured below is the result of one lesson, ON show day, headed to the ring for her rated hunter division.
My inspiration when I was a little girl...Incredible books to set out on your coffee table!
© 2011 Megan Carl - Mane Alternative