Wednesday, September 26, 2012

4 strand french braid

As part of showing horses it is usually necessary to braid their manes for dressage, and if you have a long maned horse you'll need to use a french braid.  There are two types of french braids, a three strand, and a four strand. 

Here is my test subject, plenty of hair to work with.

This link from Lucky Braids  shows you how to do the traditional 3 strand Running braid which is very common.  It's very difficult to get this braid to stay on the top of the neck, and as you add in hair it tends to get longer and move down the neck, especially if you aren't very good at it.   It will also come undone if you let the horse put its head down to graze or eat hay.  Or I just suck at braiding.  I've been experimenting with using 4 strands which is a traditional French braid, sometimes seen with the baroque breeds, as a way of keeping the mane on top of the crest. 

Here is what the braid looks like part of the way down the neck. You do this braid like you were doing a tail, or a person's hair.  You take hair from BOTH pieces that crossover, the top and bottom piece, and not just the top (3 strand french).  So make your first full crossover, then take an extra piece into the part you hold in your left hand, AND pass a piece UNDER the braid to the piece you hold in your RIGHT hand.  Then make a full revolution of turns.  Repeat. When you add to the piece in your left hand pull DOWN hard to make it tight and when you add to the piece in your right hand pull UP hard to make it tight. 

Here's a closer look.  The key here is to get a ladder so that you are standing over the top of the horse.  You want to keep your LEFT hand on the left side of the neck and your right hand on the RIGHT side of the neck so that you keep the braid on top of the horse's neck.  Pull the braid tight as you go. 

Here's a view from above.  Since I finished this braid off half way down the neck you can see that it's pulling to the side, but closer to her ears you can see how it stays on top of the crest.  I'm still in the beginning stages of learning how to french braid so it's all pretty rough, but that's where I am right now.  Hope you've enjoyed my tutorial and please feel free to ask questions!


  1. When you get more comfortable with braiding that way, would you post video? I can't seem to get it straight in my head and that would be perfect for showing my youngster in hand.

  2. I'll see what I can do. Do you braid long manes or tails at all now?

  3. Just came across this post - I've been trying to figure out a good braid to use for my Friesian's mane when we do conditioning trail rides and the 4 strand braid looks like a better option than the 3 strand braid. Thanks for the idea!


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