Monday, December 19, 2011

French braids or running braids

For the mane there is another braiding style for hunters and there are a number of different names for this style of braid. Essentially it is a French braid that runs the length of the neck. If your horse has a thick or double mane, you may need to divide it down the middle and braid it on both sides. 

There are also two ways to braid the mane, either adding the hair under the braid or from the top which translates to the left side of the braid or the right side of the braid.

Just as with hunter braids, you also have a few variations as to using yarn or thread, the full length of the braid or just at the end. I prefer to use it the full length of the braid as it helps to keep the braid tight as well as giving you something to work with through thin spots if the horse has been rubbing their mane or if it is just thin overall.

Exhibitors Labs has a nice step by step, with photos of the process, but their end result could be neater. Sometimes the 'ripple effect' is due to braiding too tight, then the horse puts their head down, pulls sections loose and when the head comes back up, the braid gets a bit wavy.

To keep the braid up near the crest of the neck, I like to pull each section snug once more before using one of the other sections to cross over or under it, securing the hair. I also like to use spray in conditioner which leaves the hair feeling a bit 'tacky' or sticky, which helps you maintain your grip on the hair as you braid it.  I also use my thumb to section off the hair as I add it to my braid, starting on the under side and going up and over to the other side of the neck.

I use small sections as it keeps the mane tight enough to the crest, but still allows the horse to raise and lower their head without pulling the hair too much.  If you can braid the horse with their head down about where it would be while riding, you can still get the braid tight enough to stay close to the crest of the neck without it being too loose and rippling when the horse puts their head down. Another thing you can do to help keep the hair and braid tight while allowing for their neck to stretch is to pull the hair towards the back of the horse and down as you braid.

When you get to the end of the neck you can finish the braid, tie it off and then either tuck it back up on itself at the end, or tuck it back up along the neck and tie it off. Either way is generally acceptable in the hunter ring. 

I tried braiding my big mares mane for the pictures here. Unfortunately between the rain over the weekend, the skies being cloudy and not offering enough light, the flash not going off because it wasn't dark enough for it in the cameras opinion... my pictures didn't turn out too well. Add in her dark color and a lot of the detail was lost. There was enough there for me to see that I personally, don't think the french braid or running braid is a flattering look for her. At least not right now. Maybe if her neck were more developed through work- the results would be different.  Do you agree or disagree?

What do you guys think? Is this braid a good look for her or not?

I used the tan string I normally use on Kat so it would show up, if in case the pictures had been clear enough to use them as a tutorial. Her mane is still pretty long, so I can pull it and maybe do a post on that, then one for the rosettes or button braids, which seem to be more popular in the dressage arena.

Since the French or running braid can pull the hairs when your horse puts their head down, you may need to remove the braid between classes and re-braid. You will definitely want to remove the braid overnight. Your horse can rub a giant bald spot in the middle of their neck where they used to have mane overnight. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hunter braids

My braiding needs work. I need to practice.  Although sometimes I manage to get it right and pull it off, sometimes I don't.  I can admit it. My braiding needs work. But I don't often get time to practice braiding just because.  Which is one of the reasons Why I braid for schooling shows. Why not? It is practice for everything else- why not include braiding?

I braided Kat on Friday night for the Pleasure Driving show on Saturday. In driving, braiding is pretty much necessary for presentation. Neatness counts and appearances are everything. It took me 2 hours to do (which didn't seem like it) and looked pretty good considering. It was still not perfect as I have seen others do and have pulled off a few times myself. Consistency is everything.  Even braids and a straight bottom line to all of the braids makes an impact in the judges eye and their first impression.

Lucky Braids- Ruthann has got it down to an art and a science. Her braids are consistent and gorgeous. Sign up for the newsletter, buy the disc, attend a clinic or ??? but she has nailed it when it comes to braiding. 

For those of us who haven't gone that route but still want to learn to braid- there are a number of forums, websites and blogs with 'how to' instructions. I had found one a while back that was excellent and now I can't seem to track it down again. I hate it when that happens. Usually I try to email myself a link for future reference... Woulda, coulda, shoulda....  and wouldn't you know it, the one time I don't- Poof!

LUCKY for all of us- I found it again at- Hunt Seat Horses 

Along with another excellent post at the Horse Grooming Supplies Forum

Both of these articles have a number of photos to show you how to achieve the desired end result. They also contain numerous tips and notes as to why they do something or don't do it. And now that I have linked to them- I have them here on the blog in my 'notes' for later use.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Braiding 101

Kat and I made it to the schooling show on Saturday and I did braid him for it. Although it was not one of my better braiding jobs, I did manage to get a few pictures of the work in progress but none of the finished results. 

Starting out with a mohawk and brushed out mane.

Clipped up, starting to braid and go for neatness. I shut the flash off for this pic since it was bleaching everything out otherwise, hence the blue-ish coloring.

I was a bit rushed and he can be a bit of a prick about things at times.  For one, when braiding his forelock, when you reach the end of the braid and have a few hairs in each section to work with- he will jerk his head away to look at something. The whole time your braid is unraveling... When working on the braids near his poll, he will keep turning his head around towards you, trying to grab your sleeve if possible, etc.   A well placed elbow usually works well for that but he still tries.  Again this is usually by the time you reach the bottom of the braids and don't have a lot to hold onto.

Cross ties would put a stop to a lot of this, but we don't have them. Part of your job requirements as a good groom, you must learn to work with what you have and how to deal with each horses issues, while still doing a good job to make the horse look their best. Not everything goes as planned and this is not a perfect world.

Under the ADS rules, braiding the horses mane is optional. However many people agree when it comes to your turnout- it makes for a much neater appearance and becomes almost rather mandatory.  Similar to the Sport Horse ring, tails are not braided. There are a number of different braiding techniques and I will try to address each of them as we go, making this a series of sorts. I will also address braiding tails.

For Kat's forelock, to maintain its length, I French braid it, then turn it under and pull it out through the top using the crochet hook. I then bring it back down , laying it on top of the French braided part, turn it under again, then bring the strings around both sides, tying it off on top.  Depending on the length of the forelock, it can be turned under and tied off or turned up, then run under the French braid and tied off. It is all about working with what you have and learning how to achieve results when there is little to work with. 

The mane can be braided into the small hunter braids,

 rosettes or button braids,

french braids or running braids

and even 'woven', or what some people call a continental or diamond braids.

Some of the different types of braids go pretty quickly, but the small hunter braids, you you might be there for a while. Once you get a rhythm down and have done it enough, some people are able to braid a mane in hunter braids in about 30 minutes, some people manage to do it in 45 minutes while the rest of us might be looking at 2 hours to get it right...  I didn't time myself, but it was around 11pm before I got back into the house. 

And just as you may do a good job braiding the horse, not all types of braids work for all types of horses.

To me, this horse with this style of braids, it is just not as flattering as it could be. The horses neck development shows through a lot here. Notice the 'hollow' spot where the top of the neck and shoulder meet? Maybe a running braid, tight along the crest or even coming down a bit could cover that and make it less noticeable, changing the appearance and bringing different results.

If you are braiding for other people, you probably need to do the style of braids as they choose. If you can appeal to their better senses and do a different braid, you can change the appearance of their horse for them in a way they might not have imagined.

The main thing though is to practice.  When ever you have a bit of spare time and just want to practice, do it.  There is also a product available called the Braidpal. You can pretty much practice any time, anywhere and no horses will suffer. 

This photo is someones first attempt at button braids, so while it doesn't look show ring ready- they are making an effort to improve and get it right. I cannot knock them for that. We all started somewhere and our first attempts rarely look great. I know mine didn't. 

I will post more on braiding and move towards the 'how to' in future posts.  Any style in particular I should start with?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is it just me????

Here is the scenario for today's game of how many things can you find wrong? This is part one.  Sometimes it isn't a matter of learning what to do, but instead- what NOT to do!  Keep your eyes and your mind open...

The school recently hosted Oktoberfest as a way for the different school clubs to raise money for their activities.  Good idea and plenty of activities, food, etc. all in one spot.

My daughter is taking an Equine Science class in High School. The ES teacher had brought a trailer in with several bales of hay to set up a hay maze, along with 4 horses for 'pony rides' and a few other smaller animals for the petting zoo.  The class was to set up the hay maze on Friday. Some of the kids were wearing shorts, skirts, sandals, flip flops, etc. because their classes aren't exactly 'hands on' and the weather has still been pretty darn HOT! 

The horses arrived sometime that Saturday morning, before 9am when I dropped my daughter off to help set up the booth for one of her other class/clubs fundraising. The horses were tied to the wrought iron fence in the shade, but later I learned there was an issue with no hoses available to provide water...  The event didn't start until around 4pm.

When the event was over at 10 pm and I picked up my daughter and her friends to come home, driving through the parking lot, we went past the horses tied to the fence in the same spot. One of them caught my eye because it's ribs were showing and it looked a bit underweight. "OMG! That horse is thin and should not be here." The words came out of my mouth without even thinking...  "Mom, should I tell my teacher that on Monday?"

Of course she did!  Because that's my girl...  To which the teacher responded with, "That horse has ulcers and that's why it is underweight. Your mother shouldn't make assumptions like that without knowing the truth behind the the matters."

Talk about opening up Pandora's box. *sigh*  Wasn't it on the Fugly blog where it was often said, "When you claim to be a professional, you are automatically held to a higher standard." I do believe it was.

Shall I add more salt to the wound of information? This teacher is married to a farrier. I have heard his name, it sounds familiar but that's all. She also claims to have several other horses at home, somewhere around 25-30 head from what I understand.

**I have a show coming up this weekend and may be able to get pictures. Definitely be posting about braiding, so stay tuned... Schooling show, two classes, not a big deal.**

Monday, September 12, 2011

Should I go?

Almost a month and no new pictures or even a post over here? I am bad at keeping this one updated, I admit. I do need to post about braiding. We skipped the ADT up north and we also skipped the schooling show. I still need a few things before either one will happen. 

One being gloves- since mine mysteriously went missing sometime after the last show about a year ago.  Another thing I need is a driving apron. I have the material, just need to sit down and sew it. I also need to decide on which hat, which outfit, etc.

I could have taken Kat to the schooling show, but I like to have other horses to compete against. I could have taken him and just entered to school him, but if there is no other horses there, why spend the money and waste the judges time? Is it just me or do others think like this too?  What drives you to go to a show or helps you decide when to skip it and just stay home?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pictures are up

Just wanted to post here, that the pictures from the Darby are up on Show In Style. We had a great time and Kat did really well for his first time out in harness. There were a lot of 'firsts' for him. First long road trip, first time overnighting, first time seeing other ponies pulling carts, first time really working anywhere but home or the horsepark, first time doing obstacles...  He handled everything really well and I am proud of him.

I didn't get a chance to braid him but I will soon and post the pics of the process here. There is an ADT next month at the same place, part of it is dressage and based on turnout. Another show the same weekend is a pleasure show where again, turnout counts. Either way, braiding needs to be done.  I guess I need to get after it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


At some point there comes a time when we have to weigh all the options and consider what it best for our horse. Sometimes this decision is about shoeing or leaving them barefoot.  What to do, what to do???

There is a driving event up north, next weekend.  Kat is due for a trim.  He has good feet, hard enough not to chip or crack all that easily, but soft enough to leave him a little 'gimpy' and tender for a few days to a week or two after a trim.  When he gets a little long- he overreaches really, really, really, really bad.  Click, click, click, click with every stride at the trot. Even with standing him up in the back and squaring the toe- when he gets long and is due- you know about it because you hear about it.

I have been putting it off trimming him, while considering whether or not to have him shod.  Talking to the farrier he asked where up north we were going? Flagstaff in some areas has a lot of cinders in the ground. Think Lava soap. The green stuff with the pumice in it...   If he is gimpy after a trim, the cinders could wear his hooves down even more and leave him incredibly sore. Not something I want to do to my pony.  So we planned a day, I figured for at least front shoes and this morning he got them on.

He has been barefoot all  his life so when the farrier went to hammering and shaping the shoe, Kat was a bit on edge.  When he had to cut off the heels to make the shoes small enough to fit him and the sparks flew- it really got his attention!  Kat's feet are a little too big for pony size shoes, but a tad too small for triple otts (sp?) or 000 size. He is in between.  He has been difficult to fit with everything else- why should shoes be any different? *hands in the air and massive eye rolling*

He was a champ though and although he flinched several times and gave the farrier some wild eyed looks as he hammered away on the shoes to shape them, Kat stood there and didn't move.  Damn I love this pony! 

The farrier also asked if he has any kind of movement? I showed him a few of the photos from this blog and the other one, where he was working in long lines. Wow! was his response.

If that's what he looked like before- now that he is shod up front and correct all the way around, I can hardly wait to see what this little guy has got!  I admit I have been trimming him for quite a while and I don't always get it right every time. Knowing when to step back and let someone else do it can be tough for some people.  I have no problem with it at all. And of course I had my phone handy to show the pictures to the farrier, but did I think long enough to take a few while he was working on Kat or the end results? Oh come on now... Are there any posted here?  Yay me! *snork*

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Did it again....

Over the weekend I did not get any braiding pictures again.  Big surprise? Yeah, not hardly.  We were busy going to look at and then going back to pick up new additions to the herd.

I bring you Buzz

and Betsy

Betsy has brands on both hips. Big ugly suckers and if she will let me catch her, I am going to slather them up with ointment. Instead she slips out under the bottom rail and goes for a sightseeing jog around the property and gets the horses all stirred up. The other night she slipped into the stall with Kat.  He looked at her kind of surprised to see something smaller than he is. 

Betsy is a Hereford cross and Buzz is a good guess, but looks like he could be a Jersey. He is still a bull for now and needs to have his horns dealt with, but he is friendly and loves being scratched and schmoozed... His eye was all watery for the second picture, but had cleared up by that afternoon. 

The girls love the cows. Anything with spots, including the neighbors horses, are called Holly Moo. That's how it is in their world. Maybe now that we have a couple of brown cows it will change? Who knows.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Breathing new life

I finally kicked the blog over to the other account as you may notice by the picture in the avatar. Pal is moving the other direction now.  I still have the old account and if I can EVER ditch the extra gmail account, I may put it back on here. I don't hold out much hope for that happening though....  Google help, really isn't and they seem to not really give a crap about their users.  

There is still plenty of grooming tips and things to discuss so why not resurrect the dead and breathe some new life back into this thing?  Kind of funny since I just read today that Cathy Atkinson is offering up for sale her blog Fugly Horse of the Day and that is where many of us first met online.

Since I have begun driving Kat and gotten the cart and a harness to use in getting Pal & Mommy Mare started in harness- braiding will be on course for posting about since it seems to be a requirement for the proper turnout in competition. It neatens the appearance of the overall picture and shows you put forth your best effort in making sure you are ready to go in the ring.  Of course there are a few different types of braids to cover and they why's and how to for each one. 

Driving horses never have their tails braided, but hunters do so I will go over that as well.  This weekend will be a busy one for me, getting pictures to put up on both blogs covering both braiding and their training in progress. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New blog

Here is a link to the new blog Show In Style I will be shifting everything over to there and deleting this one eventually.

It is only in the beginning stages and may undergo some changes, but for now- it is up and running. See you in the ring!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Suggestion box

Since I will be scrapping the blog, wiping it out and starting all over from scratch- I am taking suggestions for a new name. It's a New Year, why not make a fresh new start? Any ideas?