You might not be able to tell, but that is a full mane on the left & on the right!

For those of you who have seen Vinny au naturel, he has A LOT of hair. And he loves his hair – it is part of his pony self, his identity.  So, like Samson who would lose his power with the loss of his hair, Vinny dislikes – well hates, having it pulled.  Seeing how it is twice the size of a normal mane, pulling seems necessary.

Or maybe not…..

After spending last winter aggressively pulling his mane.  Enduring the trauma and drama of it, I finally got it to a manageable size.  I thought, yay, finally!  But it mostly stood straight up, no “training” would lay it down.  Then all summer I had “hairy” braids.  You know what I mean, little fuzzies that you can’t seem to braid in.  And his hair is like wire – thick and stiff.  So all summer my braids looked kinda messy.  No amount of “product” would tame that steel wool he has for hair.

So, I have stopped pulling it and (very embarrassed to admit it 🙂 ) ……  I cut it. Yes, I cut it with scissors.   Trying to cut in diagonal lines, not straight across, I would hack away at it till it was a decent length.  I finally got some of those fancy thinning scissors.  And Vinny’s mane is back to it’s full lion’s mane of glory.

For training, no big deal, there is a lot of hair to toss about and look dramatic.   Vinny is big on drama.  And for the shows, I have some very thick braids.  But they are neat and tidy, and stay in place.  No one can tell, unless you are close up, that they are the size of golf balls. 9-11 golf balls, and elastics barely hold them (usually I would need 4 per braid) but most of the time I sew them in (so 2 elastics needed).  And I have to say, I think they look quite nice.  I do prefer sewn braids, even tho it takes more time.  So when I am doing my own braiding, I take the time to sew them in.

my little purple braiding kit. Purple is my fav colour.

Here is how it works…..

To sew I like the mane longer than usual.  Makes it easier to fold under the braids.  Too short and the look funny.

Step 1. Braid down a section and elastic the end.  Braid the whole mane down.  I am using white elastics so you can see what is happening.

one braided down - the other with with end tucked up

Step 2.  Fold up, or roll up the loose end of the braid to make a tidy end and secure with elastic, or 2.   Making all the braids approx. the same length.

Step 3.  Get your big needle and waxed thread ready.  Cut a long piece of thread and thread your needle.  I have painted my needle with nail polish so I can find it easily when you drop it.  And YES I have dropped it in the stall – into a pile of hay. And I did find it after an agonizing 20 mins of finger sifting.  Because you know that if you dont find it, your horse will step on in and puncture the bottom of his foot.

Step 4.  Roll up the braid, I like to roll twice so it will hold tightly with the thread.  Stick the needle from the bottom of the braid up thru the top of the braid so you come out a the base of the mane on the right hand side of the center section of the braid.  Pull thread so there is more thread below the braid and then sew back down sticking the needle in at the base of the neck on the left hand side of the centre section of the braid.  This will anchor it nicely to the crest of the neck and give you enough of the rolled braid tied in.  Now you have 2 pieces of thread sticking out the bottom of the braid.  Being waxed it will hold it in place just like this, tie off the bottom snuggly and cut  loose ends so you can’t see them.

Needle, with thread, going up from the bottom thru the braid. Notice my nicely manicured nails!! Just for these pics 🙂

Step 5. continue till finished and repeat on the forelock.

Sewn braid, tied off at the bottom with loose ends hanging. Cut the ends so the thread is not visible. And yes that sucker is SOLID = they DONT fall out! And that still amazes me.

Taking them out…. fold up the golf ball of braid and cut (with small scissors) the tie at the bottom and pull out.  VInny’s mane is so thick that last show I undid all the braids and 2 days later found one braid still in there.  I wondered why I could comb his mane that day!

If you can’t braid yourself then get someone who can.  Spend the money OR learn to braid.  All it takes is practice.  I had Barbie’s as a kid so I learned to french braid before I had horses.  Made braiding for horse shows SOOOOO easy to learn.  If you are too old for Barbie, practice on your kid or your friend.

What kinds of braids are popular out there?? anyone using tape anymore?  white or black?  Or maybe those new bands I have seen (no way they would work with Vinny’s hair, I might as well use pipe cleaners).

Alison, getting ready for our next sh-mojo.