Tail braiding is similar to braiding forelocks, though there are a few adjustments. Here are some tips:
• To preserve the tail, the top pieces on either side should be bigger than subsequent ones. Thicker initial pieces means less pressure on those top roots, which take more pressure than other tiers of the braid.
• Stand VERY HIGH on your ladder. Hold your hands higher than you think. Otherwise, the braid will slide down and break hairs at the top.
• This shows good size sections to take from the back of the dock. Pieces that are too thin put too much pressure on roots. You can crank on pieces this size, though they don’t look bulky. In fact, they are rather consistent with the mane piece proportions. No worries. It will loosen as the hair against the dock wants to puff out. So, pull.
• Most docks end where the inside of the cheek turns to the gaskin. In this picture you can see where the bottom of the dock and cheek area match. Some warmbloods have extra long docks. Just braid to the turn of the cheek.
• Keep the hair wet as you braid! Otherwise you can’t get it tight. Wet hair stretches.
• Tails are delicate. The rule is not to braid them before midnight.
• Re-braid tails daily. DO NOT leave them in. You’ll be sorry as tail hair breaks easily.
• Keep tails bandaged whenever they are not in the ring. Swishing at flies can break hair. Take care.
• If you learn a proven finger form for braiding, the French braid is easy to get tight, while keeping hair organized in the process.
• ALWAYS start the braid with yarn, so it does not unravel. This technique is done EXACTLY as is clearly detailed for forelocks in the Lucky Braids video.
There is braiding and braiding. Top braiders finish manes/forelocks with 40+ braids in 35 minutes. The highest quality tails can be completed in 7 minutes. There really is something to the little technique tweaks.
Even if you are very good, little adjustments can make a huge difference. I am for braids that are not just beautiful, but SING. Thing is, when they look machine-made, they go in more easily as well. The visual rhythm in the uniformity comes from a physical rhythm, which is possible with a streamline system.
If you want to improve your braiding, the Lucky Braids DVD/Tool very effectively teaches a finger form for tight braids made quickly and comfortably. Read: NO cramped hands. The leverage is in how you hold the pieces, not from tension in your hands. The detailed 80 minute DVD how-to covers the French braid for forelocks, which is easily adapted to tails. It comes with the only tool system available which is used by top professional braiders. Here’s a preview. The system costs less than you’d pay for two braided manes.
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.