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.**