Regardless of discipline, braiders are always on the show grounds to help you. We choose to work late nights, cold nights, rainy nights, and other times you’d prefer to be eating or sleeping to see that your horse is turned out properly for you. After my final weekend of the fall dressage season and braiding up to 12 per night, here are some tips to keep your braider happy.
Thank you to my co-author and respected braiding colleague Kerianne Manipole of Mane to Tail Equine Services for helping me write this from the trenches of braider warfare. Kerianne braids across the east coast for her many hunter clients as well as providing other services like clipping, mane pulling and horse care.
- Be Honest
We deal with the WORST and BEST horses in the business, we know about horses with life issues. But tell us first! Safety is imperative, this is our livelihood in some cases and we have families and horses to go home to. Please tell us he’s a kicker when we braid the tail, or that she will rear and flip when I do her forelock. Let’s work on a plan together to make this work. I have some clients who hold, sometimes I bring a helper, I even have some who have to be sedated. But clients are loved who are honest and up front!
2. Anything Google or a Forum tells you to try to make your mane better… just don’t.
Please don’t use thinning shears, clippers, scissors, depilatory creams, oils or other fun forum suggestions without consulting a professional. True Braider Hell is when you have a mane that was shaved or thinned with scissors and is half grown back and you expect us to still braid immaculately. Try these things off season or ask us first.
3. Contact Us Early
We book up FAST. There’s only a certain number of horses per night we can do, we are humans after all. Please get on our list early and if you have time constraints let us know early as well. As a Dressage Braider, I (Lisa) try to braid a few hours before your ride time so you have adequate time to warm up and your horse isn’t cranky overnight. That being said if you have a 10PM championship ceremony and want new braids for an 8AM ride time the next day I have some schedule shifting to do and want to know early.
4. Cancel Us Early
We aren’t offended when you cancel but please do that early. We often have waiting lists of clients to get your spot and want to be fair to all. (Lisa) I’ve braided 12 per day and the last day of the show had riders who scratched the whole last day of a show and gone from 12 down to three braids per night. It is a serious dent to the paycheck but it happens.
5. Contact Us in the Off Season
Let us come out and help you in the off season. Most of us pull manes and body clip as well and would be happy to prep your horse over the off season so you are ready to have a fantastic start of show season. It also makes our job in season easier!
6. Please Wash your Horse
“They” say braiders like a dirty mane because it has grip… well “They” have never had a white mane with black dirty roots which braids out to look atrocious! and “They” have never had horses show up with unknown fungus and cause braiders extra delay time in disinfecting themselves and their equipment between horses for client safety. Today there are many commercial braiding products we use from just water to braid sprays and can make our own grip. What I cannot make is a dirty mane clean! look at your horses roots and see if there’s dirt, gunk, hoards of dandruff and decide if you’d be ok keeping your hands deep in that for an hour. If you’re feeling a little grossed out then please wash their crests and rinse thoroughly!
7. Save the Sheen for another time
Apply your shiny products later in the game. They make our job look like catching greased hogs! Braiding is a very rough job on hands. Our hands ache and are often blistered by the end of night one, and horses with silicone based products in their coat or mane or tail make us grip harder. The arthritis acquired in braiders is not fun.
8. Pay Us in a timely fashion
Please remember to leave a check or cash for us and tell us where you left it. Better yet, most of us take online payment. How easy is that for everyone! Probably the most frustrating part is chasing down clients when you should be sleeping to prep for the next night or having trainers write large checks which don’t clear the bank for your nights of hard work.
9. Make Sure We Can Find Your Horse
No one is happy in the morning when the wrong horse is braided. Make sure your have barn and stall numbers sent to us correctly and your stall is clearly marked for us. Some clients will send a photo of their horse to make sure we have the right one and that’s not crazy, that’s helpful!
10. Spread the Word!
Tell your friends and barn-mates how much you love us! We gain work entirely from referrals and word of mouth, so a good recommendation is always helpful. I (Lisa) hired Kerianne to do hunter braids on my horses through word of mouth of trainers and friends. We also use social media to advertise our services and a friendly comment there is helpful!