Horse Mane Braiding Not Only Distinguishes A Horse, The Practice Has An Interesting History

Horse mane braiding is a common way that horse owners use to increase the beauty of their horse. But did you know that the practice dates back hundreds of years and began more as a matter of function than fashion?

One of the earliest reasons for braiding a horse’s mane was to prevent the hair from tangling in riding equipment, farming equipment (for working horses), and weaponry (for soldiers and hunters on horseback).

Braids also became a way to help people single out a prestigious horse from a “lesser ranking” horse in battles or hunts.

Eventually, braiding and plaiting found its way into equine shows, where thoroughbreds and other show horses are often braided to set them apart from the rest of the group. Many breeds are often expected to have a specific styling to their manes.


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Nowadays you can see beautiful braiding on all kinds of horses, not just show horses.

Aside from the practicalities and aesthetics of horse hair braiding, it also helps keep a horses’ hair from knotting.

According to ancient folklore, knots that formed in a horse’s mane were thought to be caused by fairies. Called “elf knots”, the tangles were said to be formed when the magical creatures visited stables at night and tied knots in the horse’s mane.

The fairies would use the knots as “stirrups” to ride the horses. Of course, horses’ manes get knots in them for all kinds of reasons – wind, dirt and playing with other horses.

Long free-flowing manes are still beautiful in their own right, but stylish plaits also stand out beautifully.

All domesticated horses benefit from having their manes and tails untangled regularly to remove dirt, tangles and debris. That’s why a well-presented and woven braid is often considered an excellent way to show how much someone takes care of their animal.

Competitions, like dressage, require a horse to be present a “polished” look to impress the judges.

Braided manes are often done for hunting-type events. The popular “hunter” braid uses yarn that matches the color of the horse and dates back to the tradition of plaiting a horse in preparation for a fox hunt.

“Button” braids are usually fashioned for dressage. A needle and thread are often needed to execute this type of braid.

The Continental braid has an intricate woven pattern and extends halfway down the neck. It works well with horses with thicker manes.

A “running” braid is like an elaborate French braid that’s plaited down a horse’s neck. This braid looks great on horses with thick, long manes, like Friesian breeds.

Just as with braids in people’s hair, braiding a horses hair adds something unique and special to their look.

Watch the video tutorial below to learn how braiding a horse’s mane is done.

Share these beautifully braided horses with your friends who love horses!

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