HuMane Braiding -
Don't Pull That Mane!
Long manes are naturally beautiful, but more importantly they are protection - protection from biting, stinging insects. Have you ever noticed how the tail, the fly-swatter for the body, will usually reach to the withers where the mane takes over? Shortening the mane and tail takes away some natural fly protection. Do we really need to do that? No, not really.
Most long-maned horses such as Arabians, Friesians and Morgans are not required to have their manes braided for show, and if your horse has a beautiful, long mane, there are other ways to dress up. There are several ways to braid without losing the protection nature has given the horse. Traditional braiding can be accomplished with a thinned mane rather than a shortened mane, and there are various other types of braiding methods. One common way to braid a long mane is known as a Macramé Braid. It is simple and relatively quick, and looks great.
You will need a comb, a clothespin or two, rubber bands, and tape if you want a finished look. To start the braiding, thoroughly comb the mane and mark a spot on your comb to measure each mane section for an evenly spaced appearance. Start by sectioning off the mane into small, uniform 1 to 2 inch sections of hair and then band each section with a rubber band (or yarn, thread, string.) about 1 to 2 inches down from the roots. They will look like small ponytails. A clothespin works well to hold the mane out of the way.
When the mane is sectioned off and banded from ears to withers, start the second row of bands. To do this, take the first 'tail' and half of the second tail and band them together 1 to 2 inches (try to maintain the same length/distance) below the first band. Then take the other half of the second tail and half of the third tail and band them, and so on.
When you get to the end of the neck, band the next-to-the-last half with the entire last tail. Do another row, and more, if there is enough mane. Make as many rows as you like to get the appearance you want.
Once the macramé process is complete, you can apply tape to cover the rubber bands for a flashier look. Experiment with different thicknesses of mane sections, different lengths of sections, and different lengths of the tails to get the look that best suits your horse and her mane. Have fun, look great, and keep that mane!