Guest post by Mary Beth from Braid Secrets.
We’ve all been there as equestrians. That horse show where the weather turns cold, really cold! So exactly how can you stay warm when braiding or grooming in the cold?
This was the topic of an email I received that said:
“Your site has been so helpful! I’m curious if there are tips for braiding in cold weather? My fingers and I thank you in advance!” ~ Joy M.
This is a great question since it will impact every rider at some point.
Thanks for reaching out Joy! In this post, you can snag the survival strategy I developed for staying warm while braiding and grooming horses in cold weather.
COLD WEATHER BRAIDING TIPS
The good news is that I have several cold weather braiding tips for you! I recall arriving at an early spring show to braid. When I got out of my car, I felt a cold, brisk wind hit my face and realized it was so cold that I could see my breath!
To make matters worse, several of the horses I was braiding were stabled in a shed row with wooden slat sides that let the wind blow right through the barn. The cold weather made my fingers feel like they were 100 years old.
So, I learned as many helpful tips as possible to stay warm while braiding in the cold and still create beautiful braids.
Here are seven of my best cold weather braiding tips so you can stay toasty when braiding:
Tip 1: WEAR FINGERLESS GLOVES
Wear fingerless gloves to keep your hands as warm as possible. If there’s one thing I know about cold weather braiding, it’s that cold fingers are slow fingers.
Tuck a pair of fingerless gloves in with your braiding supplies so you’ll always be prepared if the weather turns cold.
The pair of gloves above has a couple features you’ll want; a fingerless thumb and a mitten end that can cover all your fingers when needed.
Tip 2: USE WARM WATER
Use warm water to wet the mane or tail. Get a root comb applicator bottle (for tint) from a beauty supply. I found the one below Sally’s Beauty Supply.
Fill the bottle with warm water in the bathroom at the show grounds and use it to wet the mane. (A small bucket of warm water and a stiff brush can work for tails.) If no hot water is available bring a thermos full of hot water to refill the bottle.
Tip 3: WET THE MANE SELECTIVELY
Normally I recommend soaking the area of the mane you’re working on before braiding. But in this case, I would wet small hair sections sparingly using the root comb applicator so you’re very targeted when wetting the mane. Get the mane just wet enough to create tight, neat braids.
Tip 4: HAVE A WAY TO WARM UP, ESPECIALLY YOUR HANDS
I recommend bringing a tall, hot drink (I love coffee) in a spill-proof mug to keep you feeling warm on the inside and that you can hold for a minute or two to help warm up your hands if they get too cold. Like I mentioned, cold fingers are slow fingers when it comes to braiding so you must take care to keep them warm.
When braiding in cold weather, bring a hot drink in a spill proof mug to help you stay warm.
You can also put heat pack hand warmers in your coat pockets and use them to warm up your fingers and hands as needed. Heat pack hand warmers are another item I like to keep with my braiding supplies.
Tip 5: SET UP A BRAIDING STATION IN THE WARMEST BARN
If you’re braiding more than one horse, set up an area for braiding in the aisle of the warmest barn and braid all the horses in there.
Smaller barns with horses in stalls can be significantly warmer to braid in. Just keep all the doors shut tightly.
Tip 6: WEAR LAYERS AND ADJUST AS NEEDED
Dress in layers using moisture wicking clothes so you don’t get chilled and can take off or put on a layer if needed.
A couple of years ago I received an Under Armour hoodie as a gift. I use it as a warm layer when I’m riding or braiding. I absolutely love it and haven’t found anything that compares to its warmth, comfort, and quality. This is my opinion, not a paid endorsement. I keep a spare warm layer such as a Under Armour quarter-zip pullover with my braiding supplies, so I’m prepared for cold weather.
Tip 7: A SAFETY TIP REGARDING HORSE BLANKETS
When braiding the mane near the withers, always release the belly straps on horse blankets first, and the chest straps second. If you unbuckle the chest straps first to braid the mane near the withers, the blanket and belly straps can slide back and become a bucking strap. Yikes!
I must admit that I was in the habit of releasing just the chest straps on a horse blanket to braid the mane at the withers. Then a thoughtful trainer came into the stall I was braiding in, released the belly straps on the blanket, and told me about what can happen if the blanket slides back a little.
He shared that when the blanket slid back a little on his mare with the belly bands still fastened, it resulted in a panicked horse that started bucking uncontrollably in the stall. She eventually got loose and ran all over the show grounds trying to rid herself of that strap!
After hearing that story, I never released the chest straps only on a blanket to braid the mane at the withers again. Safety first!
COLD WEATHER BRAIDING RECAP
Here’s a quick recap of my seven cold weather braiding tips:
· Wear fingerless gloves
· Use warm water in a root comb applicator to wet the mane
· Wet the mane selectively
· Bring a hot drink to sip and heat packs to warm your hands
· Set up a braiding station in the warmest barn
· Dress in moisture-wicking layers so you can be comfortable
· Stay safe by always releasing the belly straps on horse blankets first and the chest straps second to braid the mane at the withers.
I hope you use these cold weather mane and tail braiding tips to stay warm and create braids you can be proud of.
GET A LEG UP ON BRAIDING
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Click here to learn more about the workshop and watch my video message.
Do you have any cold weather braiding tips? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Mary Beth Rohaly went from struggling to braid a mane to an equestrian braiding expert. She is passionate about teaching other riders how to transform their mane braids from mediocre to magnificent for successful hunt seat and dressage shows. Or to earn income $$$ braiding other horses.
She is the creator of the Mane Braiding Workshop where she teaches her complete step-by-step Braid Secrets system on video including hunter and dressage braids. The knowledge riders gain in the workshop will dramatically improve their braids. All levels of braiding are welcome to join, whether you’re just learning to braid or have experience. You’ll shorten your learning curve and benefit from Mary Beth’s hard-won knowledge, experience and expert tricks of the trade.
Mary Beth Rohaly is a featured Braiding Expert on Jane Savoie’s Dressage Mentor website. She has competed in both hunt seat and dressage competitions, so she truly understands what it takes to create top notch turnout for each discipline. Visit braidsecrets.com for blog posts, additional information, and products. Sign up for braiding tips and occasional special offers and get instant access to the Library of Braiding Videos & Resources for Free. You can connect with Mary Beth on Facebook and Pinterest.