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Hunter braids - how to videos & tips?

Help a poor eventer out please! I have looked on Youtube for videos (and searched this forum) but so far I haven’t been able to duplicate hunter braids.

The “best” one I’ve found is this:
Free braiding lesson 1 by johnthebraider

But he goes so fast I have a hard time figuring out exactly what he’s doing with his fingers! There are a LOT of complicated knots and techniques going on!

The other videos are far simpler, but don’t seem to show the techniques that actually make those little bumps and keep your braids tight.

I paid for a professional job at my last show, and although I watched her, again, she went so fast that I couldn’t figure it out (and I couldn’t practice as I watched, so it didn’t really help anyway). She did tell me my mane was pulled “just right” so at least I have that going for me.

I have 2 horses showing next weekend and the thought of paying another $300 on top of my $1200 of entries is making me physically ill… but they are both for sale and need to look nice. Help!

Have no tips for you because I can’t braid worth a darn, but John (whose video you posted) used to braid my horses in Texas… He’s a character but he was and still is the best braider I’ve ever seen. If you look in the comments of some of his other videos, it looks like he’s answered a lot of questions for people.

I learned from the video by Stacy Huls I think that is her name. I think it is called Braiding for the hunter seat horse or something like that.

I learned by the John the Braider video. I watched it over. and over. and over. For days. Then I practiced for about 20 minutes every other day (four or five braids per day). Then I watched the video again! Now I can do a half decent set of braids, though certainly not A circuit quality. I’ll get there eventually with enough practice.

I haven’t found another video that shows the knots as well, and the other methods shown either don’t hide the tail end of the braids as nicely or don’t hold the braids as strongly. And the braids I do are kind of a pain to undo. Definitely invest in a good seam ripper and multiple latch hooks. The morning of my first show I broke the latch hook I was using and I would have been screwed without a backup! Other tips to remember are:count the crossovers for each braid and use the same number for each braid, always take the same amount of hair, get a nice sturdy stool and a belt or pouch to hold your stuff, and have lots more precut yarn than you think you’ll need.

However, unless you spend a full three hours doing the average 36-40+ hunter braids (I’m not kidding about the time frame - my first full braiding job took me 2 hours plus another half hour for the tail, and I only did 20 braids!) and really make them look nice, you will be better off with a pro. It’s the all important braiding down that takes the time, not the tying up. You can’t gain enough experience in a few days to get the horses looking as nice as a pro will.

As a side note, for easy button braids I use this technique. This video from the same people also shows how to do the forelock, and John the Braider also has a forelock video.

There is a series of videos by Rules for Riders on youtube that show how to braid. How to braid the mane is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqb5zhNYVjU.

I use some different techniques for knots and than what is taught on the video and things such as keeping all the braids the same in length seems to be lost in this video, but it seems like a good place to start if you are just learning.

I also watched the lucky braids video…even though I have braided my own horses for years, this helped me get a routine down so my braids look the same each time.

Thanks for the input!

I should note that I do nice forelocks & tails (I was complimented by other hunters at the last show!) and can button braid with the best of them (groomed for Olympic rider for 8+ show seasons). I have been doing:

-counting number of cross-overs

-making sure braids are same length/thickness & knots at the ends line up

-trying to make them all the same size once tucked under & tied up - learned on COTH that the “bottom line” is very important for an even look

My struggle is with the “bumps”, straightness, and the tails of the braids. Trying to follow John’s video my fingers are fumbling so much that I almost feel drunk :lol:

I learned by the lucky braids video.

comingback - what other knots do you do? Also, are the knots she does at the bottoms of her braids any easier to take out with the stitch ripper? (They look harder!)

Thanks for this video. It was long & slow which turned out to be great - I could understand some of the complicated cross-overs and knots, (because she did them slowly and several times over). So now I understand the John the Braider video :smiley:

I did 3 braids tonight that actually looked the part :smiley: Will keep working on it!

The Lucky Braids video or CD is excellent, she is very careful to show you in detail her technique. However she does not show how to braid tails. There is another video called Braiding Techniques I think and it gives very explicit instructions with pictures on tails in addition to manes. It was a lot cheaper than the Lucky Braids video, I think I got it from Dover.

When I tie off at the end I bring both strings around in the knot where she only does one. She also says she braids down as far as she can go, but I go down as far as needed to keep all the braids even and usually have about half an inch to an inch of tail left.

When I tie up, I do a surgeons knot under the braid where she only crisscrosses them. I find that if my braid is crooked when I braided down, I can straighten it at this point by placing my thumb in the middle of the braid and pulling on the yarn on the side that needs more tension. Like her video, I do the surgeons knot on top, again on bottom, and then a normal knot under to finish. Again if the braid is skewing at this point in some way I can put my thumb in the middle and pull the yarn a little stronger on one side to get the braid to where I want.

Usually the tails at the braid’s end hide themselves as long as I have popped the knot into the crest when I pulled up. If not…I do something similar to what the John the braider does to hide them. If the mane is just too long…well that’s a different story :slight_smile:

Regarding taking them out…wetting the mane will make you braids come out so much easier, so make sure you do that before cutting anything. I usually just take a seam ripper and pull it down through the knot at the bottom. It’s relatively easy and quick. If I’m feeling really ambitious I may just pull the mane out of the knot (which is easier when the braids are wet). Then they usually just “fall out” from there.

Hope that helps.


Hope that helps.[/QUOTE]

Yes, definitely! I’ve been doing the knot at the end using both strings (from someone else’s video), so based on your description I will just keep doing that.

I would suggest contacting Top Turnout and buying a copy of her Lucky braids DVD. It is about 1/4 the cost of what you are paying a braider.


Thanks to the tips & studying the videos and practicing, my hunter braids turned out pretty well this weekend.

Photographic evidence

I was even able to leave them in overnight on one horse (he is a hunter princess) but definitely not on Mr. I Like to Scratch My Neck!

Lessons learned:

-mane must be very evenly pulled/trimmed, since any extra length in the tails of the braids is VERY hard to hide

-easiest way to figure out correct length of mane is to braid down approx. 8 turns. If there is more than 1/2 inch of tail, mane is too long

-braid thinner sections near wither shorter, otherwise the braid goes all wiggly when tied up.

Whoa, these look pretty darn good to me! Good job! :encouragement: