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Braiding without sprays

My new young horse came from less than circumstances. She just started letting me play with and braid her mane. I’ve been getting her used to body sprays but she’s always touchy about her neck and mane due to past home where they practiced IV injections on her. My braids don’t look as good with out the extra stick the braid sprays previde I was hoping someone had some suggestions on what else I can use? I’m thinking maybe gel?

I’d be hesitant to use gel if she’s not going to let you wash it out afterwards.

How much do you need to braid her? I’ve braided with just some water to wet the hair. Can you use QuikBraid but sprayed on a rag? Or even (gently so it’s not too much) pour it on the hair?

I hang the sprayer on my belt and turn my back on the horse (I am usually on a bucket or stool, otherwise would turn my back and take a couple of steps away) and spray in my left hand 'til I have a little puddle in the palm.

Then I draw the divided (but not separated into 3) mane through the wet, pressing down with my right hand on top so the mane section gets good and wet. As usual, be careful that it doesn’t drip or you’ll get neck-shaking in response.

Then separate into 3 and braid as usual. Your hands will be super coated with spray’n’braid but mine always get that way spraying directly onto the braid as I hold my hand behind the section being sprayed anyway to control drips.

If your horse reacts to even that much (back turned, hunched over hand) “sprayer” sound … try going slower or pour into your hand.

Good luck!

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Does she tolerate rags? You could try soaking a rag in your spray or gel of choice and then wiping down a section of mane?

Just dampen it section by section with a sponge dipped in water. No big deal. Works great. Also, don’t shampoo it for a week before braiding. Clean manes are slick.


Use a sponge, not a rag, and water (in a bucket) to get the mane wet. It holds more water without dripping the way a rag does, and I found that does a better job than a spray bottle anyway in getting all the mane hairs wet. Get all the under-hair wet too. Use a comb to distribute the water through the mane. Use backside of comb to scrape excess water off the neck if horse doesn’t like the drips.

You can use a clean tack cleaning sponge (usually good size to fit in the palm of your hand, if your horse is suspicious of sponge) or any cheap kitchen sponge (without the scrubbing part), if you’re not braiding a lot; my preference was a car washing sponge cut in half, when I braided, and those would last all week. Throw out the sponge or dry it out completely or re-purpose it for tack or washing when done.

You can mix some hairspray or quikbraid in the water, just pour in a glug into the bucket. I never liked using a lot of product because I don’t like how it makes my hands or their hair feel – once in a while, quikbraid could make a mane feel slicker (maybe if there was something else in it or soap residue?).

Remember, the wetter the mane, the less fuzz/stray hairs there will be, and imo, the easier it was to hold onto the hair to braid. I would try using just water and a sponge first. Often water mixed with a capful of mouth wash (when braiding a lot of horses, as a way to prevent contamination of skin issues) made the hair tacky enough, without the overly grippy or oddly slick feeling of hairspray/quikbraid.

Alternatively, spray some on your hand or comb and run that through the mane. For horses that were a little sensitive to the spray bottle, I found shielding their ear with my right hand and using my left to quickly spray the mane 3-4 times was often fast enough (and enough hairspray for me) that they didn’t over-react. Then immediately use comb to get product through the mane, and keep wetting the mane with the sponge and water as you go.

Another tip: don’t braid a super clean mane. Ideally, it would be washed 2-3 days prior to being braided. That gets the gunk out of the hair and gives it enough time to get a LITTLE dirty/naturally oily so the hair sticks to itself better and isn’t so slick to hold onto. Don’t condition the mane, but a vinegar rinse gets soap residue out. Make sure you don’t get any fly spray or show sheen or other body sprays on the mane.

Our braider uses a small sponge and dips that in a bucket of water and wets the mane as she goes, works super well for her and all our braids always look awesome.
I once asked her if she would be open to trying a product on my mare’s mane and she said yes so I went out and bought “In Control” from Ecolicious. It’s in a pump bottle (think hand lotion) and is conditioning setting cream for manes, so no spray/water/sponges needed. I absolutely loooooved horse it made my horse’s mane feel and look-zero fuzzies- and taking the braids out were even easier for some reason. I also noticed the base of her mane seems less irritated (she’s a good girl and never rubs) and it didn’t attract any dirt.

I asked my braider’s opinion on it the next morning, after all she’s the one using it and I want to make her life easy as possible, and she said she liked it but her only complaint would be that she really needed to wash her hands after…I guess I didn’t clean her mane as good as I though! :o But she did ask every time after that if I wanted her to use it, and said she had no problems using it again.

So you could always try that!

a damp sponge as mentioned above is fine, allowing you to spray her mane to braid is not really a “necessary life skill”