It’s impossible to scroll through horsey Instagram and not stumble upon one of those mind-blowing mane or tail braiding videos.
The video typically features a hunter with the perfectly pulled mane or a dressage horse with lush locks down to its knees. (Both horses likely don’t see a muddy paddock very often). Then the person on screen braids the mane with apparent ease into the most beautiful equine updo you’ve ever seen.
If you are like me, you have marched to the barn in a rush of passion, put some unsuspecting pony in the crossties, and then tried to braid like the internet video. By the time you have finished, it looks like a grumpy third-grader did it, and the horse is contemplating the best way to murder you after you made it stand so long yanking on its neck. Sadly, you remember why people hire professional grooms.
For these moments, I am grateful for professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford’s work and their amazingly practical grooming books. Their second title, World Class Braiding—Manes & Tails, will be released April 13 from Trafalgar Square Books. This brief but detailed reference guide takes all the mystery out of braiding, ensuring even a fat-fingered pleb like me can learn how to braid with confidence.
Both Emma and Cat have extensive experience as grooms in just about every scenario you can imagine.
Emma grew up in Devon, England, and was the daughter of a Master of the Hounds. From her horsey upbringing, she then went on to many other equine-related activities, even grooming at multiple Olympic games.
Cat, her co-author, is from Upstate New York and spent time managing a farm of Arabian Show Horses. She has braided and groomed horses at every level, from the local fair to the Pan American Games.
As a testament to their expertise, World Class Braiding is designed to fit in a brush box—ready to get covered in horsehair and be used as a quick reference.
The book focuses exclusively on braiding techniques and is organized in three sections: Manes, Forelocks, and Tails. Many different types of braids are shown, including button braids, hunter braids, and running braids for horses with long manes. Every step of every braid is meticulously described and photographed so that readers are set up for success.
World Class Braiding also stands out among other grooming and how-to horse books for its explicit instructions—it doesn’t assume that the newbie braider will create a masterpiece the first time. It is full of tips and tricks to improve as you go, such as only practicing a couple of braids at a time. This way, you can get better over time, and the horse will grow used to the experience without pressure.
There are also many superb suggestions for experienced braiders to give any braid a bit of show-ring polish.
Pre-order World Class Braiding—Manes & Tails on Equishopper!
Interested to hear more? Cat Hill and Emma Ford are this month’s featured guests on HN Reads. Tune in April 7 at 7:30pm ET on Facebook, Youtube and HN LIVE! Exclusively on Horse Network.