History Of Mane and Tail Braiding

Horses are majestic, noble animals who are also highly intelligent and very sociable. These characteristics (along with their general usefulness for travel or labor) led to a long and fruitful relationship with humans, who have been breeding horses for a very, very long time. In that long history, we came up with some interesting grooming techniques for the horses.

Braiding a horse's mane or tail is a practice that dates back centuries. As horses became the primary mode of transportation, braiding or plaiting their mane was a way to prevent it from getting excessively tangled up and/or getting ensnared in items like a soldier's musket. It's also a great way to preserve the health of the horse's hair.

One location you can see horses with exquisite braiding and presentation at the Golega National Horse Fair. If you love Lusitanos, traditions and a true cultural experience, then the breathtaking event is ‘must see’ for you. Held in a charming historic town called Golegã, often known as Portugal’s Capital of the Horse, this spectacular annual horse festival is quite literally an unforgettable event. View our Portugal horse riding holiday where you can visit the Horse Fair.

Some of the earliest references to horse braiding come from European folklore, where it was thought that fairies would sneak into the stables at night to tie "elf knots" in the mane.

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These tangles supposedly served as makeshift stirrups for the fairies to ride the horses with at night.

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Another old story states that knots in a horse's hair were a way for thieves to mark a horse they intended to steal.

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In reality, however, horse manes and tails get knotted from a variety of natural causes (as does human hair if not properly maintained). All horses have natural oils that help keep hair from getting too tangly, but a horse in the wild will still get pretty knotted up. That's why stable horses must be brushed and cleaned almost daily.

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Braiding and plaiting are a very practical and effective way of keeping hair from tangling. 

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Plaited horses were even immortalized in literature by Sir William Shakespeare himself, who wrote the following in Romeo and Juliet: "That plaits the manes of horses in the night. And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs. Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes."

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These days, plaits and braids are most popularly seen during equestrian shows. The style of braid or plait depends on the horse, the event/competition rules and the overall equestrian discipline of its owner. There are so many variations though that personal preference also plays somewhat of a role.

An event where you will be able to witness finely plaited horses is The Jerez Horse Fair (Feria de Caballo), an exciting and lively event in Jerez, Spain that brings the entire city to the Gonzalo Hontoria Fairgrounds, which cover 52,000 square metres, giving ample space for the finest, beautifully turned out horses of Jerez. View the outstanding trip to Jerez Horse Fair with Equestrian Escapes.

Certain breeds known for their long, free-flowing manes are supposed to be presented without braids, and for these horses in particular, the braid is more part of day-to-day life to keep those long locks from breaking. Other competitions like Halter and Showmanship require a more "polished" look.


The popular "Hunter" braid uses yarn in a color that matches the horse. This type of braid goes back to the times of prepping a "Button" braids are used in dressage events. These are more complicated and usually need a needle and thread.


The "Running" braid is an elaborate French style of braid that is plaited along the length of the horse's neck. This is best suited for horses with very long, thick manes.


The "Continental" braid is a woven pattern meant primarily for horse's with abundant manes.

Article Source : https://www.wimp.com/a-brief-history-of-the-popular-trend-of-horse-mane-braiding/


01/02/2018
Sarah Caplan

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