~ by eruwen_thranduilion

Throughout the movies we saw horses with long, flowing manes and tails. Very picturesque, no? However, with endless journeys over cross country, I wouldn’t doubt that the riders of Middle Earrth, particularly the elves, probably braided their horses manes and tails. Not only does it keep the horses necks cooler on hot days, but it also keeps the mane from getting snagged in low hanging tree branches. There are many different ways to braid mane, but I’ll describe how I braid my own horse’s mane. You’ll first need a few items before starting:

1) a bucket (makes a decent stepping stool)
2) spray bottle filled with water
3) steel comb
4) baby oil
5) yarn or rubber bands (match to the horse’s mane color)
6) crochet needle (if you use yarn)
7) seam ripper (if you use yarn)
8) butterfly clip

To start, if your horse has a habit of moving his head too much when he’s tied up, tie a full hay sack in front of him. Then turn on music, since you will be there a while. Turn the bucket upside down under your starting point, the forelock. Now, here’s whatcha do …

1) Spray water over the whole mane (makes it easier to braid) and comb out the section you’re going to braid (use baby oil on tough tangles). You can keep the rest of the hair out of the way with the butterfly clip.

2) Make a simple three strand braid until you reach halfway down.

3) With a piece of yarn 1 yard long, wrap the middle of the yarn once around an outside strand of mane and gather the yarn hanging down with the middle strand, then braid the yarn the rest of the way down. Leave an inch undone at the bottom.

4) Wrap the yarn around the end and tie a secure knot. You should have about eight inches of yarn hanging from the bottom of the braid, depending on how long your horse’s mane is.

5) Poke the crochet needle through the top of the braid and place the yarn in the hook. Pull the needle up through the top and continue to pull the yarn until the braid makes a loop with the end of the braid tucked under the top of the braid.

6) Wrap the yarn around the top of the braid, then secure with a knot.

7) This takes a toll on your fingers after a while, so if you don’t like the job you did, you can always cut the yarn using a seam ripper.

8) If this is too much trouble, then take the easy way out and use rubber bands. Use one to secure the end of the braid, then another to secure the loop at the top. Unless you’re a purist (like myself) it shouldn’t matter what you use.

Braid from the head to the wither, and braid on the right side of the neck (it’s traditional). There should be anywhere from 20 to 40 braids along the horse’s neck.

Now your horse’s mane is ready for a cross-country ride!