Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023

A Little Bling In The Hunter Ring

Braiders went all out with decorative touches in hopes of winning the Phelps Media Group Braider's Award.


There’s a challenge on. It’s not just the horses and riders vying for wins at the Alltech National Horse Show.

The braiders are bringing it, too. 

There’s $2,000 up for grabs for the Phelps Media Group Braider’s Award, and some of the nocturnal hair-twisters in Kentucky are going all out to claim victory. The judges will be watching all week to see “the braider who presents the best complete braid job (mane & tail) using the [orange and black] colors of the Alltech National Horse Show,” according to the prize list. The winner will be announced on the afternoon of Nov. 2. 

There have been lots of creative braid jobs touring the hunter rings this week. We caught up with braider Jeff Claxton to see what went into his sparkly decorations adorning Kimberly Maloomian’s Russian Gold in the 3’3″ amateur-owner hunter division. 

Russian Gold, or “R.G.,” is sporting blingly “NHS” letters in his mane for the National Horse Show.

And he’s got “Kentucky” spelled out on his tail!!

Here’s Claxton hard at work putting the finishing touches on R.G. “[Maloomian and I] started planning this in August!” Claxton said. “I thought he would be a really good model because he’s cute and he has awesome hair.”

Claxton, of Ocala, Fla., has been braiding full-time since 1995. He’s also worked as a human hairdresser. “I did my own when I was a kid and I always enjoyed it. I needed a job, so it seemed logical,” he said. “There seemed to be a demand and I was there.”


Claxton showed Appaloosas and Quarter Horses as a child and now does obstacle and trail challenges with his horses. 

But Claxton doesn’t have this competition all tied up (pun intended). There’s plenty more orange yarn being used. 

Daryl Portela’s Winner, who was the grand low amateur-owner hunter champion, sported an unusual style of braids alternating each side of the neck, all done in orange.

Glenn Senk’s Declaration was just one of the horses showing with a fully orange mane. His tail had the same orange accents.






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