Flat Braids can look painted-on if you master these elements:
• Taper. Blunt manes won’t hold the knots. The hair wants to be straight, loosening the knot. A tapered mane is able to stay tight, if knots are correct. The Grooming Resource’s Mane and Tail section has lots of details for crafting manes here.
• Being Tight. Especially, at the base. That is your anchor. Stand high on your ladder. Hold the roots to start. Drop your shoulders.
• Proper Bumps. In order for the braids to lie flat, they need leverage. Tying too low down on the braids makes bumps too big. Though, you need just enough turn to leverage the braid bottom to lie flush against the neck. As long as your braids are tight and tied at the right angle, that pegs the braids flush to the neck.
• Counterbalance. My knots all are positioned to be counterbalanced. That is, I make four surgical knots to tie up each braid. They are each positioned to maximize braid stability. No jiggling! No puffy or clumpy bumps. Braids should stay put, with a perfect bottomline- THE MOST IMPORTANT element of the braid job. Bumps and every other element should be optimized to achieve a crisp bottomline.
• Braiding Yarn. If knots are thick, braids cannot sit flat against the neck. You want yarn you can crank on without breaking and that stretches a bit to embed itself in the grain of the braid. Yet, yarn should not loosen up when the horses sweats or gets a bath.
Because most yarn is made for knitting- coming together vs. pulling apart to tie knots, I developed a Braiding Yarn to suit the bill. Believe me, it is a bummer to braid the whole mane down, only to have the yarn pull apart when you try to tie up.
• Rhythm. The visual rhythm of the uniformity of the braids, results from the physical rhythm twisting them. An efficient, streamline and proven system is faster AND easier.
Bumps can vary a bit as the hairline shifts. You don’t want them too big. However, if braids are tight and you tie in the right spot, they’ll work out to always be just right. From far away, braids will look painted-on.
Remember: there is only one straight bottomline. Make it sing.
Braiding is like equitation. If your hands are in the proper position, it is easy to balance to the next movement. That is how we get even braids and tautness. The tension is in how you hold/leverage pieces, not the muscles in your hands. You can’t go fast if your hands are crunched up. So, you can’t get the rhythm… braids are inconsistent.
People say they know how to braid. There is braiding and there is braiding. This mane and forelock would take me 45 minutes, door to door. In the end, the streamline system leaves the horse is relaxed, so he can focus to win. Those are Lucky Braids.
If you are twisting manes, remember finger form, knot technique and exact position are key. It is not rocket science, but there is a very specific form to it. Eighty minutes of detailed instruction is very clearly outlined, up close and slowly, in the Lucky Braids DVD/Tool. You can see a preview, or if you want to really get it down, order, here.
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.