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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 2003
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    Unhappy Mane thickness/length and braiding... paging Robby Johnson!

    My horse has a lovely, thick mane (wish I could say the same for his tail)... which is great for grabbing onto during those "oh sh!t" moments, but is a giant PITA to braid.

    If I make each braid small, it takes forever (and I usually end up with 20+ braids), but if I make them any bigger, they end up standing up and looking like golf balls ready to be teed off: https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...98412567_n.jpg [excuse the fashion faux pas with the exposed wrist, wore the wrong shirt!]

    Even when I pull his mane, it ends up just getting shorter and thicker instead of shorter and thinner. Am I doing something wrong? Should I try sewing them in instead of using rubber bands? HALLLPP!!
    -my life-
    Translation
    fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
    skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk



  2. #2
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    Oct. 22, 2001
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    Any chance when you're pulling it that you're breaking off the hair rather than pulling it out at the roots? Think about trying to pull it straight down (I wrap around a pulling comb to get as close to roots as possible), and it should thin out a bit more.

    As for braiding, I'm no Robby, but with a mane like that, I would sew them into balls rather than try to use bands. When you sew them in, you can roll the mane up and you get pretty rosettes/balls rather than folds. Plus, as part of the sewing, you can use the thread to get-them-really-pulled-together (e.g., smaller, more even).



  3. #3
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    I think I'm pulling it by the roots... I was taught how to pull a mane in 4-H camp: use an old fashioned comb pulling comb, wrap it around, then pull downward. (I suppose this was in the age before razor combs. )

    I suppose I'm doing it right because after about 15 minutes, he steps back and gives me the "look" to tell me he's had enough trauma for the day.
    -my life-
    Translation
    fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
    skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Sep. 7, 1999
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    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrittSkritt View Post
    I think I'm pulling it by the roots... I was taught how to pull a mane in 4-H camp: use an old fashioned comb pulling comb, wrap it around, then pull downward. (I suppose this was in the age before razor combs. )

    I suppose I'm doing it right because after about 15 minutes, he steps back and gives me the "look" to tell me he's had enough trauma for the day.
    First off, you're gorgeous, and so is he! LOVE!

    Secondly, for The Mane That Keeps On Giving, you most definitely do NOT want to back comb/wrap/pull. Why? You'll never get it thin enough at the crest, but you'll break enough hairs and be so short that you'll end up with 24 braids - elastics or sewn.

    Robby Rule #1. You are forbidden to own or use anything other than a pulling comb. Are we clear on this? Good, let's move on.

    For this mane, you are to focus primarily on thinning, and it's OK for it to be a bit longer. To thin:

    1.) Take your pulling comb (or even your fingers, and I like to use rubber - or disposable latex - gloves when this is the route I take) and push back once. You only want about 15-20 (max) hairs in your fingers.
    2.) Pull up and out - aim for your forehead.
    3.) As you work your way down the mane, keep combing/brushing it out and testing for volume. If it's truly dense and thick at the crest, make sure it's thinner AT THE CREST. This is critical for getting a nice foundation for anchoring the braid.

    You may consider this bad news, I like to think it's good news:

    You need - and will probably have to, at the outset - to do this pretty much every time you ride, until you get it into functional shape. Even then, you can't give it any leniency. It is like kudzu, it will appear overnight.

    I equate rubber band braiding with eating squirrel: I would probably only do it if I were absolutely starving. Learn to sew them in. It's so easy, and they look so good!

    I need to call my dressagista friend Jane and do an updated video tutorial on her super cute new youngster. I did see a great tutorial a few years ago from the Groombabes, and actually picked up a tip on that one that I'd not used previously. You might Google to see if you can find it.

    Hope this helps! Feel free to reach out again - I'm happy (and honored) to hold your hand through this!
    When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.


    10 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Mar. 30, 2012
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    Northern California
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    Hmmm, ill have to try this new pulling technique- I've never really used a comb, I found I broke too many hairs. i only pull with my fingers- but now I'm going to try to aim for my forehead! and I have to admit that I have never really braided one of m horses.... But I have always wanted to learn, I think I'll try and see if I can get a handle on the sewing braids instead of the bands!



  6. #6
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    Jul. 19, 2003
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    Robby Rule #1. You are forbidden to own or use anything other than a pulling comb. Are we clear on this? Good, let's move on.
    Oops. I break this one, as I have a couple of various cheater-cheater toys. I only use them in desperation. Toby is very serious about me not pulling the mane at his withers or near his poll (VERY serious about his withers). I cheat on those two spots (and it's obvious, especially at his poll!).

    I do find going UP instead of down makes a HUGE difference in both how much LESS you have to tug (usually), and also how much more hair actually comes out at the roots instead of snapping off. This might make a big difference. I learned that trick a few years ago, and it has made a HUGE difference in my mane pulling...I could even pull Vernon's mane without having to wrestle him to the ground and hog tie him (which always makes me wonder...WHY do we pull?!?).

    FWIW, I don't mind them sticking up and those definitely don't look like golf balls. SEWING them in does definitely help if you have a lot of hair going on and just can't tame it. Remember Clive?? I only ever sewed his in...that mane, even pulled as often as I did it, was no match for my wimpy rubber bands (yes, Robby, I use bands...my fingers can only tolerate about 20 minutes worth of braiding before they look like claws. Sorry).



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robby Johnson View Post
    First off, you're gorgeous, and so is he! LOVE!
    Aw, thank you! I was nervous, I'm sure that's not totally obvious...

    Secondly, for The Mane That Keeps On Giving, you most definitely do NOT want to back comb/wrap/pull. Why? You'll never get it thin enough at the crest, but you'll break enough hairs and be so short that you'll end up with 24 braids - elastics or sewn.

    Robby Rule #1. You are forbidden to own or use anything other than a pulling comb. Are we clear on this? Good, let's move on.
    Makes sense. If you look at his mohawk, it's definitely thick at the roots but gets thinner as you go skyward. I can't get too many hairs in the comb when I pull his mane, otherwise he stops eating his grain (!!!) and it breaks our mane pulling truce.

    However, I have to commiserate with YB and admit to using the quick comb on his withers, because if I even so much as hover the pulling comb in that area, he whips around and goes, "OH HELLLLLL NO!" Makes me regret not doing those sections when he was passed out on the floor while getting his SI injected the other day.

    I've resolved to learn how to sew them in, because if I ever make it to Prelim this year, it'll mean 8 AM ride times and braiding the night before. Currently my braided-down rubber band braids only have a shelf life of about 3 hours before they start to frizz.

    Thank you so, so much!
    -my life-
    Translation
    fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
    skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk



  8. #8
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    Sep. 14, 2002
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    Let it grow longer over the summer and then pull it next season. With a super thick mane it has to start longer in order to get it thin without being too short.
    Often when I use a pulling comb the comb will break "some hairs" before the root. No bueno. so if I really need to do an over haul I use my fingers only. And I do a little bit a day so that I'm not there for hours.

    I braid thick manes all the time. They turn out sooooo cute. I do a draft horse and his owner is a man and likes the mane long. The buttons are golf ball sized and they are adorable. The rider and his wife love them.
    here he is:
    http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p...ps6e186df6.png

    rule:
    for a long thin neck you need less braids and fatter braids. This makes the top line look thicker. Or, do them Euro style. But for Euro style the mane needs to be a little longer and not so thick.

    For a short stubby or thick neck you need lots of braids and they should be smaller.
    This makes the neck look more elegant.

    the trick to perfect braids are:
    1. The sizing of the sections. (must be perfectly spaced)
    2. The quality of the first few passes of the braid.

    I use my braiding/pulling comb to measure out the sections. All horses I do for bizz have between 10-12 braids.

    Toby the cow pony has a crappy neck. Very short, thick and ties in too low. When I did him I measured out his sections with my comb and then split all those sections into two. So he had twice as many braids.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  9. #9
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    Jul. 19, 2003
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    I've resolved to learn how to sew them in, because if I ever make it to Prelim this year, it'll mean 8 AM ride times and braiding the night before. Currently my braided-down rubber band braids only have a shelf life of about 3 hours before they start to frizz.
    If he comes and stays with me for awhile, I'll show you how. It really isn't hard, and they do look nice and they have a MUCH longer shelf life. The process just takes me a little longer and my hands just can't deal. I also really love just being able to pop them out in 5 minutes while Tobes is icing or noshing on his lunch after xc instead of having to drag the stool out and find the seam ripper, etc, etc, etc....



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robby Johnson View Post
    Robby Rule #1. You are forbidden to own or use anything other than a pulling comb. Are we clear on this? Good, let's move on.

    Yup. I break this one all the time. I have a two that will literally KILL you pulling. As in slam you into the wall even twitched....and drugs do not help much. It just isn't worth it. I sew my braids and can make them look good even if I had to use a razor to fake pull their mane. And even with a razor....they will still slam you around some. Fun.

    I also have a few that have the opposite issue....just not enough hair. Pulling them short gets the hair too thin no matter how hard we try not too pull anything out. So the cheater comb comes out there too. I find if I do it carefully, it still looks good. It actually takes longer to "pull" using the cheater combs.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  11. #11
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    Feb. 9, 2005
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    Oh please do a tutorial video! Please...
    Siouxland Sporthorses: http://slsfarm.blogspot.com/

    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/



  12. #12
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    Sep. 7, 1999
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    Polls and withers are amended rules. In truth, I have always found those areas don't require much pulling anyway.

    Otherwise, the post was a response to FrittSkitt, based on the information she provided, with support from the physical specimen. YMMV.
    Last edited by Robby Johnson; Apr. 26, 2013 at 12:14 PM. Reason: My earlier sentence rewrite needed to be rewritten.
    When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.


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  13. #13
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    May. 15, 2010
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    Since we are talking about braiding, and you guys mentioned the course of action to take with thick manes, what is the best way to prepare thin manes that grow super quickly (so it is perpetually too long to manage...without the dreaded scissors) for braiding?



  14. #14
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    Sep. 14, 2002
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robby Johnson View Post
    Polls and withers are amended rules. In truth, I have always found those areas to require much pulling anyway.
    agree. I use main thinning scissors on those areas. But I don't thin with them, I cut the main short with them.

    I have a two that will literally KILL you pulling. As in slam you into the wall even twitched....and drugs do not help much. It just isn't worth it. I sew my braids and can make them look good even if I had to use a razor to fake pull their mane. And even with a razor....they will still slam you around some. Fun.
    My 1st horse was like this. I adopted a great way of getting it done. I would put a chain up under her lip, drop the lead to the ground and then stand on it. Well, the first few times I held it and when she went to slam me against the wall I ripped her ever freakin lovin face off. Then it got to where I could drop it to the ground and stand on it. Then it got to where the lead could just hang there.
    I guess she learned? And this was a very very mean bright red Polish Arab mare. She was a b$%h and a 1/2.

    When I had to braid my broodmare I didn't have time to pull. I don't remember why. But her mane was soooo long and thick. I seriously parted her mane down the middle and cut mane off. It worked perfectly. And then she had 1 year to recover before being braided again for foal inspection.

    Babykins got her first pulling about a month or so ago. She was not thrilled. She told me so. So I nubbed her little snoot up to the pipe fence--and held a whip. When her hind end would come over to smoosh me--well, I had a whip. Most times all I had to do was poke her with the hard end in the ribs.
    And she was nubbed up so she couldn't pull back. She finally just sighed and stood there. Hopefully no one will ever have that discussion with her ever again in her life. : )

    I don't have much tolerance for belligerence. And thankfully, I have my size and my evil stare to work with.

    If I had a horse that was really bad? I would probably work his ass off (gets the hair follicles more open so the hair comes out easier--also makes him tired), then ace him, then nub him to a fence, and then have someone wiggle a twitch on his nose, oh and also put hobbles on the back legs. All my horses are hobble trained.
    and then, Bam Bam Bam Bam get it done in 10 minutes.

    I've never had one who could out wit me to need all that though.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  15. #15
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    Oct. 22, 2009
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    Just sew them in. Thick sewn in braids are GORGEOUS. Thick rubber braids are not. Plus, it's so much easier to sew, especially because if you mess up, you just keep sewing until it looks normal
    .



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    agree. I use main thinning scissors on those areas. But I don't thin with them, I cut the main short with them.



    My 1st horse was like this. I adopted a great way of getting it done. I would put a chain up under her lip, drop the lead to the ground and then stand on it. Well, the first few times I held it and when she went to slam me against the wall I ripped her ever freakin lovin face off. Then it got to where I could drop it to the ground and stand on it. Then it got to where the lead could just hang there.
    I guess she learned? And this was a very very mean bright red Polish Arab mare. She was a b$%h and a 1/2.

    When I had to braid my broodmare I didn't have time to pull. I don't remember why. But her mane was soooo long and thick. I seriously parted her mane down the middle and cut mane off. It worked perfectly. And then she had 1 year to recover before being braided again for foal inspection.

    Babykins got her first pulling about a month or so ago. She was not thrilled. She told me so. So I nubbed her little snoot up to the pipe fence--and held a whip. When her hind end would come over to smoosh me--well, I had a whip. Most times all I had to do was poke her with the hard end in the ribs.
    And she was nubbed up so she couldn't pull back. She finally just sighed and stood there. Hopefully no one will ever have that discussion with her ever again in her life. : )

    I don't have much tolerance for belligerence. And thankfully, I have my size and my evil stare to work with.

    If I had a horse that was really bad? I would probably work his ass off (gets the hair follicles more open so the hair comes out easier--also makes him tired), then ace him, then nub him to a fence, and then have someone wiggle a twitch on his nose, oh and also put hobbles on the back legs. All my horses are hobble trained.
    and then, Bam Bam Bam Bam get it done in 10 minutes.

    I've never had one who could out wit me to need all that though.
    That's ridiculous. If the horse is just being a snot, by all means have a CTJM. But for some horses, pulling manes HURTS. How on earth do you justify drugging, tying, twitching, and hobbling a horse to do an unnecessary task that causes the horse pain? MOST horses don't mind or get used to it, but for the ones that pulling mane hurts, I certainly wouldn't drug, chain, and beat a horse for reacting to pain.
    .


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Grey_hunter View Post
    That's ridiculous. If the horse is just being a snot, by all means have a CTJM. But for some horses, pulling manes HURTS. How on earth do you justify drugging, tying, twitching, and hobbling a horse to do an unnecessary task that causes the horse pain? MOST horses don't mind or get used to it, but for the ones that pulling mane hurts, I certainly wouldn't drug, chain, and beat a horse for reacting to pain.

    Yup. These two horses are relatives and good horses. Not typically difficult but this one thing is just something they hate. I just find it is not worth my time to fight about it with them just to pull their mane when I can shorten it and make it look presentable without such a battle.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrittSkritt View Post
    Am I doing something wrong? Should I try sewing them in instead of using rubber bands? HALLLPP!!
    I present His Draftiness and the best $40 I ever spent: http://www.flickr.com/photos/93277510@N02/8681510325/ IIRC she did 36 braids. Those braids got us through Wednesday's jog and Thursday's dressage test.

    Seriously though, sew in braids using waxed thread are the best for a thick mane. There's a video somewhere on EN's archives with step by step instructions. There's really no getting around doing at least 20 on my horse, but I can do them the night before and they're still intact the next morning.


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  19. #19
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    Jul. 17, 2005
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    My mare objects to the back combing... NOT the pulling So I did a much gentler version of purplnurpl and stood on a lead rope attached to a rope halter. Now I just leave my right hand on top of her poll (reminder to keep head down so mane doesn't get shorter and shorter and so i'll be aware if she tries to body slam me...) I wear rubber gloves and grab the very ends of the hairs with my left hand and pull straight up. I ride 3 times a week, so I aim for about 10 minutes once or twice a week of pulling and that tends to keep it in check. I DO use a razor for the withers, because apparently that section is NOT part of the agreement. Also I can't stand on the lead rope / keep my hand on her poll and reach.

    I'm not above taking advantage if she's already drugged for the dentist Then I'll go nuts with a pulling comb and knock it out in <15 min.
    Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)

    Darcy: 7? year old Border Collie x Rottweiler? Drama Queen extraordinaire, rescued from the pound in Jan 2010



  20. #20
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    Robby,

    Great tip on using rubber gloves. My fingers always come away with hair cuts.

    Last year, someone on the Dressage forum posted a video of the Dutch method of braiding for dressage. They do not pull the mane. They grow it out to a certain length, then cut it straight across. They braid with wax thread. I thought that their braids looked lovely, especially on their horses' necks.

    If anyone can find the link ( I am too tech challenged to find it), it is a good one for those who have thick manes or pulling challenged horses.
    When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


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