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Banding a horse's mane

Banding a horse's mane is a pretty standard procedure for approved showing and for many open shows. It can make your horse's mane lie flat and close to the neck even on a windy day. When the mane lies close to the neck it gives the illusion of a slimmer neck.

When you are just starting, it is always a good idea to practice banding your horse's mane early in the week prior to your show. This gives you an idea how long it will take and how well your horse will stand for you while you are banding. When you first start it will usually take several times to get the mane looking as good as you would like it to look, but hang in there, it comes with experience.

List of the equipment to have on hand:

Braiding bands, the color depends on preference [white bands on a black mane look good, IF you do an even job of banding] I've never tried black bands on a white mane, tho

Pouch or pocket to hold bands, if possible

Alligator clips

Quick Braid - a mane training spray that offers very good grip and control of the mane

Small fine toothed comb

Scissors

Step stool (work so that you are level to or slightly above your horse's mane)

1) Spray Quick Braid, spritz a 2" section of mane with the training spray, starting at the bridle path. Next, separate out a inch section of hair. While holding this section, use an alligator clip to hold the mane to the left of you securely out of your way. As you work down the mane, you may need to use an alligator clip on both sides of the mane to keep the hair out of your most current band. The Quick Braid gives you added grip over the hair as well as holding the mane into place when you are finished.

2) Pull the " section thru a band holding the hair as close to the neck as possible, wrap the band around the hair sections several times until tight, twisting the band after each loop keeping the hair in the same hand - this forces the twist to always be on the same side of the hair. Keeping the twist underneath is also supposed to help the mane lie flat.

3) Go on to the next section of mane and separate out another " section of mane. Repeat the banding procedure, using an alligator clip to keep both sides of the mane out of your way.

4) When you are completely finished, tighten the bands and then trim the excess length off the mane. To tighten a band: from underneath a band, grasp a small section from each side of the band and pull down and outwards staying close to the horse's neck.

5) If you are banding the day prior to your show, use a slinky to keep the mane free of shavings and clean.  This also flattens the mane more and on some horses this looks great and on some it looks bad.  You need to know which is does for your horse.

You can either band the forelock or braid the forelock. Use a quick spritz of Quick Braid before a class to help hold down stray hairs.  I do not leave the forelock banded or braided overnight - if the horse rubs the forelock or it the forelock catches on something, the entire forelock could be pulled out or thinned greatly.

Depending on the thickness of your horse's mane, you may need to make your sections of hair larger or small than ".

Hints: The below tips will help solve a few problems you may encounter.

Trim the mane AFTER banding, because no matter how straight you trim the mane prior to banding you will always find it necessary to trim again AFTER banding.  So why do it twice?  Unless the mane is exceptionally long and you need to get it into a manageable length.

To visually lengthen a short neck, band smaller hair sections than inch. This will give you more bands per mane, creating a visually longer-looking neck. 

If your horse has a long, thin neck, keep your sections at just around inch.

If your horse has a thick, coarse mane, thin it out before banding, and keep your sections at about three-eighths of an inch, so the bands will lie flat.

If your horse has a thin, wispy mane, you'll need sections of about five-eighths of an inch, so it doesn't look as if you only have a few hairs in each.

Some horses may have thin spots in their manes and you will find a combination of the band sections will have to be used - experiment to find out what looks good with your horse and your situation.

 

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