Summer Job: Show Braider?
First off, I'm copying this directly off of my Yahoo Answers question to save my fingers a little bit of ouchiness. xD
So, I was out at the barn visiting my horse, and my dad was was watching me braid his mane. He suggested since I enjoy braiding so much, why not turn it into a job over the summer since there are so many fancy show barns around and most of the people there hate braiding. It sounds like a good idea, so that's my plan. I just have a few questions.
1) Most of the shows around here are IDCTA Schooling Shows that last from 8 AM to 5 PM. What type of braids should I be prepared for people to request? Button and maybe running braids for the mane and what about the tail? I usually do a simple French braid because that's the way I was taught, but are there other common braids I'm not aware of? I haven't shown in a while. I also know how to do a diamond 'braid'.
2) Should I be prepared to pull a horse's mane at the owner's request, or will they generally take care of that ahead of time?
3) What supplies will I need besides different colored bands for their mane based on mane color and a comb? I know some people use thread and a needle, but I don't know if I'd be comfortable doing that around a horse that isn't my own.
4) I assume I'll be braiding early morning on the days of shows, so the dress code around the barn is a bit higher for riders and trainers. Just being a simple braider, will jeans and a nice t-shirt work, or should I swap it for a polo? Breeches would probably be over kill, right? My dad was offering to make me a t-shirt or something or other that advertises that braiding is what I'm there for so people will come up to me the day of the show as well as making appointments ahead of time.
5) What is a good starting price for my services, considering I'm just starting? By donation, or just a low price to start off?
6) Since this won't be at my own barn, I was going to ask if I could braid horses around the barn to build up a portfolio of pictures (to show the manager), then I was going to take the binder from barn to barn and ask a manager if I can put up flyers advertising. Or should I go about it differently?
7) I forget my other questions, but I can put them in the details. Sorry my questions are always so long.
Actually, around where I am, there is quite a bit of business for it. I used to have a friend that would go around braiding, but she moved across the country, so she's not really around for me to ask for advice. The show barns around here are rather snooty and the people generally don't like doing more than they have to. Most barns offer grooming services before and after you ride your horse (eliminating any work for the owner...), but the grooming services don't offer braiding. It's just sheer laziness / ignorance.
3 minutes ago
If it is a hunter show you are going to then you are going to need to know how to plait, which requires yarn. Hunter plaits look like this:
Button braids are common in the jumper and dressage ring, as well as eventing:
Tails are usually only braided in the hunter ring and should look like this:
There are a few different ways to finish them off. Pinwheels are hardest to do but look fantastic if you can do them right. Many people will just finish the braid off after they get toward the end of the tailbone and loop it under.
If you do any running braids make sure they are along the crest of the neck and don't get droopy.
As a horse owner, I know if I am going to have my horse braided, I make sure his man is pulled. Be prepared for some un-pulled manes though. Just charge extra if you do have to pull a mane.
As for dress code, dress comfortably. Jeans and a t-shirt should work just fine. The people that have braided for me, I only judge them on their braiding abilities, not what they wear.
I would price everything you do low, especially if it is a schooling show, until you get really good and travel to some bigger shows.
Practice on every horse you can and take pictures. This is a really great way to make money. My roommate braided at local events and combined tests to make money to show her horse. Go to where the show is a day or two before and post a few flyers. Good luck!
Thanks. =) Already, this site is proving to be way more useful than Yahoo Answers.
Is there any particular mane pulling comb that I should invest in? I don't pull my guy's mane because it's so thin as it is. I can buy online, or we have a Stateline Tack and a Dover around here.
And thanks for the pictures, too. Turns out, I had never actually seen a completed hunter plait before. I guess that's the next one I'll be practicing. =)
Off topic: Does anyone have a video on how to do a running braid like the one in countercanter's post? The style where it's tight against the crest.
Have a picture showing an example of each type of braid that you do just in case you run into someone who wants to see your work or if there's a show newbie who doesn't know braids by name.
Bring brushes, water and hair spray or gel.
Bring chems to disinfect the brushes and combs after EACH horse.
Generally speaking you won't be asked to pull a mane, but you never know. Be prepared to do so.
The needle to sew the braids isn't sharp. It's more like a rug needle, but you can buy blunt needles specific for horse braids.
Get clearance from the show ahead of time. Not all shows welcome people just coming in and offering services.
Get some business cards. VistaPrint.com often has specials where you can get simple cards for free. Include your name, phone number, email and a list of services you're offering. Never know if you might get a call to do something else. If you can offer things like body clipping, mane pulling, sheath cleaning, tack cleaning - whatever - list them too.
If you're just starting - are you just starting at charging or just starting at braiding? If you're just starting at braiding, skip charging and just try to get as much experience as possible. Check local ads to see what others are charging.
You have the ability to have quite the profitable business! I know someone who would braid at the shows she went to and would make enough money to cover all of her showing expenses.
At 2-3 day shows, make sure that you are able to go back and check on the horse's braids to fix or even re-braid if they have rubbed/slept on them. Keep a list of ride times so you are well aware as to when the horses need to be ready.
Time how long it takes for you to braid a mane. On a well behaved horse, using rubber bands on button braids, I take 20 minutes.
Also, you'll want to have a stool. A tall, sturdy one that is easy to carry is best.
I highly suggest learning how to braid with yarn. The braids are less likely to come undone when secured that way.
Hunter braids, when done properly, are stunning. but it takes a lot of practice to make them look nice. For example:
These people are amazing:
@Dancing Arabian: I'm just starting at charging. I've been braiding my own horse's mane since 2007 and lesson horses since 2004. xD The business cards are a great idea that I wouldn't have thought of. I had a set made up for when I was interviewing people for my school paper, but I didn't even think to make them now. What kind of chemicals do you recommend for disinfecting? Usually, I use bleach on my synthetic brushes, but I've never had to disinfect anything for his mane since I tend to buy new hair brushes so quickly.
@IslandWave: It's nice to hear it's as profitable as I'm hoping it will be. xD I love braiding, so I think it'll be rewarding to get paid for doing what I love. I'm currently saving up to get my horse out of the barn I'm at now. They didn't tell me that he colicked at some point last year and the service is only going downhill. I recently sprained my foot walking around on the property, too >.<. Just walking, trying to get to the pasture. And a stool is a great idea. I'm only 5'4, so extra height would be lovely. Button braiding my guy with rubber bands only takes me about 15-20 minutes. His mane is really thin.
@CounterCanter: Thanks for the clarification. =) I didn't know if the brand made a difference for it as far as quality. Like buying forks for the kitchen... some are nicer than others. That last picture is STUNNING.
Side note: I'm thinking of setting up a small website (like webs.com or something) and posting an online portfolio / an example of all of the braids on my horse with a price list and service list. I just remembered that one of the barns around here actually has a computer that the boarders are allowed to use, so I'll leave a flyer with the website right next to it. =)
Also, I'm sure I'm not the only one this happens to- when I braid, my nailbeds get rubbed raw. I've heard that putting vet wrap on your fingers helps... does it work?
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