The other day, I asked my friend what she knows about types of horse braids and to her, it was strange to know horses get their hair braided like human beings too. Yes! it might come as a shocker but different types of horse braids do exist. Braids on humans help improve appearance. Braids on horses serve this purpose too but horse braids are done based on function than fashion. These braids help in keeping the hair in check than adding to the horse’s appearance. There are many benefits braiding the horse’s mane offers to function than fashion.
Horse braids date back centuries when horses became more domesticated. They were used as one of the most common modes of transportation then. Apart from camels and donkeys. Horses were always attached to riding equipment and hence the reason for braids so as to prevent tangling in the equipment.
Just like tribal marks and tattoos were used to identify human beings then, horse braids were used to differentiate similar horses and there were specific braids assigned to one’s rank.
Benefits Of Horse Braids
- Knots and tangles can be kept in check.
- The mane doesn’t get dirty easily and the horse’s hair is prevented from thinning out.
Something about braids is that they reduce the fly-swatting capability.
Horses, apart from having braided manes that extend from their heads and run down the length of their necks, also have tails that can be braided.
The horse breeders braid their horses such that the mane still serves its natural purpose of keeping flies away. There are different types of horse braids, depending on the activity the horse is used for or based on what the breeder wants.
Types Of Horse Braids
1. Hunter Braids Or Flat Braids
This braid is so named because it was originally used on horses that were involved in fox hunting. It is one of the most popular types of horse braids and it involves the use of yarn which matches the color of the horse.
They are smaller than button braids, with as many as 2030 plaits on the neck, and though seemingly archaic are considered to be traditional braids used in the US seat hunt competition.
2. Knob Braids
They are a variation on hunter braids, which involves pushing part of the braid up to create a “knob” at the top. They are a common sight at dressage competitions, though they are also popular at breed shows.
3. Button Braids
Also known as the rosette braids. This type of horse braids requires the use of needle and thread. These braids are tacked with needle and thread so that they resemble buttons. They happen to be the most common braids in the United Kingdom and the United States, they are round and usually fewer in number, though larger than the aforementioned Hunter braids. The number of plaits ranges from 9 to 15 in the United Kingdom, similar to that found in the US.
It’s a common tradition to have an odd number of plaits during competitions but this is overlooked by judges these days. The more the number of plaits, the longer the neck of the horse.
4. French Braids
The French braid is also described as an “Andalusian” braid. French braids should be what we are familiar with already because even humans make these braids on their heads. The braid runs along the crest of the neck. It is mostly used on horses with long manes.
5. Waterfall Braids
I like to call this the “prettier version of French braids.” It is French braids but it has some newness attached to it. Instead of allowing all the hair to be braided, some pieces are left to cascade down the side of the neck horse. The mane resembles waves of water, in succession thus the name; Waterfall.
6. Continental Braids
Of all the different types of horse braids, the continental braids is my favorite because of how elegant it looks. It is also known as Macrame braid. Macrame braids involve the use of knotting rather than weaving or knitting. The knots are created using yarns or rubber bands. In doing this, a net is created in the mane and as such, these knots aren’t the typical braids. Just like French braids, these braids are used on horses with long manes. The continental braids resemble curtains and thus, can be regarded as Curtain braids.
7. The Scalloped Mane
The scalloped mane, unlike the others, is a less common form of braiding. This braid looks more like loops. It is not like the other forms of braids but it is very useful for bulky manes.
8. Braids Or Plaits
These are normal braids that are made to resemble pigtails. There is the need for a ribbon to bind the braid towards the end.
9. Spiral Dutch Braids
This type of braid has novelty written all over it. It is mainly done on the tail and it involved wrapping a single braided section around the remaining ‘loose’ part of the tail. This is done in a spiral manner and it looks best of horses with very long and full tails.
10. Fishtail Braid
This is flatter than a standard and plain 3-stranded braid. It has some level of elegance attached to it too.
Before you plait the mane and tail of your horse, it is advisable to make sure it is clean and shiny so that the braids come out well. Comb the tail with your fingers (never use a comb on the tail to prevent it from thinning out). Manes can be combed with a soft brush. Thick manes should be treated just the same way the tails are treated.
There are special detangler/shine products for horses’ manes, you can use any of these to get rid of knots. Make sure your horse’s mane and tail are washed at most, once a week and not more than that so as to prevent drying out.
After making sure the mane and tail are clean and well toweled, horse breeders can go ahead to braid any style they want but it is very important to avoid too much tightness while braiding.
You can pick your favorite of the varied types of horse braids and work with that. Braiding your horse’s mane is a great way to spend some time with your horse and develop some relationship with him.