Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hunter braids, part two

Yesterday I covered manes, so today it's on to tails!

While pretty much all the hunters at a USEF rated show will compete with a braided mane, braided tails are a bit more optional. You tend to see them most in the rated divisions, but even there, it's not universal. Still, it's a really nice touch and completes the classic hunter look. There are several different ways to finish a braided tail. Probably the most popular option is the "pinwheel" in which the long pigtail is rolled up onto itself.I love all the colors in this bay silver pony's tail. You usually can't see the yarn because braiders do try to match it as closely to the hair color as possible. However, with an odd color like this, that may be impossible.
Close up of the braided tail and pinwheel. Notice how tightly braided this is. Model braids are often much too loose, resulting in a "fat tail" look. The top part should be quite narrow.
Here's another way to finish a tail. The long braided section has been folded up and tucked under the French braid.
And yet another finishing option. In this case the braid has been turned so it circles the tail horizontally.
While I had not seen this particular style of braiding until fairly recently, it's been everywhere at the last several shows I've attended. I'm not sure if this is due to a newfound popularity or simply the work of one very prolific, professional braider.
Either way, it's pretty neat!
I really hope these pictures will be helpful to hobby sculptors and customizers. I would love to see some new, beautifully braided models in the live show ring!


  1. was so glad to see so many braided tails in one of your sets of photos recently--they were REALLY out if style here, even at rated shows for a while.

    I love the look personally--but it does make it tougher to show a model horse in a lot of different things unless you've got wigs.

    I've never seen that third option on finishing a til before either, but I think its cool.

  2. Perfect photos, as always! Something to aspire to in sculpture. As a side note, most hunters have fake tails. At the higher level shows, I was told they often freeze the tail so that the horse doesn't swish it while on course. I've noticed that even the happiest horse will usually swish his tail once or twice on course (sometimes as if to show off after a particularly good fence), so when I watch high-level competitions, I watch the horse's tail. If it stays perfectly still the whole time, I suspect that it has been frozen (the Maclay is an excellent example of top hunters). It's ridiculous the lengths some people go to, but there you go. Anyway, if you're showing or customizing a horse as a high level hunter, I think it's a good idea to try to avoid swishy or moving tails.