Buff Up Your Braiding -
Mane Braiding Tips to Solve Common Problems

By Ruthann Smith
© 2010, Ruthann Smith, All rights reserved.
Originally Published in The Plaid Horse

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Braiding beautifully is not rocket science. It is a formula. Learn each step, and you can braid any horse well. This requires repetition, but mostly accurate form. If your body is in the proper position, it is easy to balance to the next movement. Here are some tips to yielding perfectly uniform braids comfortably, quickly and consistently.


Braids need to be tight to maintain the bottomline throughout the day's activities. However, what makes braids taut may be counter-intuitive. Clenching your hands and shoulders only tires and frustrates.

Creating sturdy braids requires leverage. Pick the hair up between your fingers, close to the braid. Then turn your wrists out, away from the braid. This puts more weight into your hands, rather than tension. Like this:

For leverage, pick the pieces up between your fingers.

For leverage, pick the pieces up between your fingers.

For leverage, pick the pieces up between your fingers.

Create torque by turning your wrist away from the braid. Note fingertip position. Thumb will be placed over the cross of the braid.

For leverage, pick the pieces up between your fingers.

Pass hair into the finger- tip without lifting the thumb. This holds the braids tight and flat. The thumb sits over the knuckle to assure you need not lift the thumb, which would loosen the braid.

For leverage, pick the pieces up between your fingers.

A clean bottom line is the most important part of the braid job.

Horse Braids

Braiding well is not difficult, but does require accuracy. In the LuckyBraids DVD, I am able to easily explain the entire formula in detail. With a tried-and-true process, anyone can braid beautifully.

The Bottom Line

An effective braid job creates the optical illusion of a longer and rounder neck. The bottom line is the most important element. If you were to play connect-the-dots along the bottom folds of the braids, this should make a perfectly straight line, with the angle pitched so braids are slightly longer toward the poll than the withers.

Eyes on the Prize

Consider the bottom line at each stage of the process. Before tying up, knots should make a perfectly straight line. Often braids are different lengths, given changes in the hairline and topline. But, the most important aspect is the bottom line. So, check for and adjust it at each stage of the process.

Winter is a great time to buff up on your braiding. So, practice now to dazzle the judges later!

Bio Pic

Ruthann Smith has spent a lifetime studying sound horsemanship- both as a groom for top international horses and as a renowned braider. Quietly twisting manes atop a ladder, she watched and learned in some of the best stables in the world.

As her passion for great grooming grew, Ruthann became focused on researching, collecting and sharing the best practices of the world’s keenest horsemen. Ultimately, Ruthann used her vast experience to develop exceptional equine grooming products to help raise the bar of horsemanship.

The knowledge she dispenses and the products Ruthann developed solve age-old grooming issues. Making quality horse care easier, they have received the highest honors in the equine industry*. Her Lucky Braids for Top Turnout coat care and braiding products are the best, most versatile, cost-effective and easiest solutions available on the market today.

Now Ruthann offers her LOVE, LOVE Guarantee. If not totally thrilled with a product she developed, Ruthann will refund you in full, regardless of where you purchased it.

It’s her life’s mission to empower horses by educating, motivating and equipping their people to be true horsemen. You can access Ruthann’s tips at: The Grooming Resource on LuckyBraids.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and her Horsemanship Clinics.

*After testing 350 products, Lucky Braids All-In-One Horse Shampoo was named product of the year by Horse Journal, the “Consumer Reports” of the industry. They also named Lucky Braids Shampoo and Top Pick for greys and whites. Lucky Braids specialized braiding yarn also got stellar reviews.