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I have a 2 year old arabian mare, with the thickest mane. shes all black, and i was wondering if i could braid her mane into small braids during the summer to help keep her cool.

she lives outside 24/7, but i heard that this could be dangerous? is this true? how thick should the braids be? what kind of ties should i use? how long can i leave them in for?

a friend of mine told me that dark horses do better then light horses in the heat (the sun)...its a bit hard to believe (being that black holds more heat then white) is this also true?
 

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You can braid her hair but don't braid it tightly at the root of the mane or it will irritate her and she will try to rub it out. I braid my gelding's mane (to train it to stay on one side), I use about 13 braids and secure them with rubber bands. You can leave them braided for as long as you want as long as she is not bothered by them.

You can also just gather pieces like you were about to braid them, but just band them instead so she has lots of little pony tails.
 

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Although I don't believe that dark horses do better than light ones for the same reason, I really don't think that having her mane in braids will make that much difference as far as her comfort level goes. That being said, if you do it, keep the braids loose and you can make them any size that you want. Regular rubber bands should work just fine and the only issue I have seen with leaving braids in is if they are around fencing or trees that can grab a braid, one or two of them may get pulled out. Like completely out from the root if they get caught on something. Although I have had Koda's mane in braids for about 2 months (trying to train it all to one side) and have not had a problem with it getting caught by trees or fences.
 

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Yeah, dark horses tend not to get skin cancer's like grey horses can, but dark horses do suffer more with the heat.
 

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I agree, it should be fine just be sure to keep them fairly loose so there can still be free range of movement without too much irritation.

I believe dark horses do worse in the heat because like you said, the darker absorbs the heat.
 

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Keeping your horses mane in small, or even larger braids is fine. During the summer is it not uncommon to see ALL my boys with braided manes :) it just helps keep them cooler, and their manes cleaner.

The size of the braid also depends on the horse. For my most impatient, mustang-like three year old, I do larger braids. His whole mane is contained in maybe 4-5 braids. It is VITAL that these braids are kept LOOSE at the top and that any pulling hairs are corrected after braiding. He's had his braids in for a good 3-4 weeks now, with no problems and a much cooler horse.

I do more medium sized braids on Sammy, my 16 year old. He has a pretty standard mane and it's really just to keep him cool during the day. He has some skin problems and so the less he sweats, the less he itches. Maybe 10-15 braids. I redo his braids about once a week since he scratches and messes them up so much :) Again, these braids are loose at the top so they don't add to his discomfort.

Loki gets the smallest braids. I braid his mane for both cooling and for pretty waves. He gets 15+ braids, depending on how patient we both are, and how I want his mane to turn out wave-wise. Since his mane is so long I often leave a few inches straight at the bottom. When I take out the braids it looks awful for maybe two days, then the waves relax and it's rather pretty.

His sire has a naturally wavy mane (very, very pretty O_O) that he unfortunately did not pass on to Loki, who has a very straight mane like his mom instead >.>
 

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you could always do a diamond braid. I did that with my app gelding because it was always so hot under his mane that I felt bad. (he really could have cared less and I'm sure he didn't like the pink bands I used)

It did it very loosely and made sure that the bands will either break or just come out if he got it caught on something.

Here is how his looked


Just make sure that you re-do the braids every few days so you dont wind up with a huge knot in her mane.

About the whole white horse black horse thing. I dont know which is true, but my gelding (white) seemed to tolerate the heat and sun better than my mare (chestnut)
 

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I would just band it if I were you. Braids can get brittle and break hairs. Norman's mane is like a Friesian's so I keep it banded in the summer to let air in and keep the mane somewhat tidy.

Otherwise you could braid the mane, then wrap the braids in vet wrap and keep it in for a couple weeks. Some people swear by that method. I tried it on Norman once, and it worked pretty well until he rubbed them out. Plus vet wrap can get expensive when you use so much of it.
 

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I braid Gracie's mane. Ricci can't keep them in for the life of her, but lucky for her she has a pretty thin mane, and it's white. =] Anywho, Gracie has such a thick, black mane and she is still carrying around her winter coat so I felt bad. Here is how she looks in them after about a month.



She broke in to my feed room, and she was so cute I had to snap a few pictures before I chased her out. =]
 

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I braid my boy's mane up in the summer. It seems to keep him from sweating so much under his mane. Nice loose braids would work fine.
 

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Gothedistance, you are right about braids not being a good idea for a horse that's out 24/7. When a horse is itchy and rubs the braids can get caught. You might opt for thinning her mane on the underside when warmer weather arrives. Sweating isn't harmful, it's actually a cooling mechanism.
 

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I agree, just keep a fly sheet on the horse
Although I don't believe that dark horses do better than light ones for the same reason, I really don't think that having her mane in braids will make that much difference as far as her comfort level goes. That being said, if you do it, keep the braids loose and you can make them any size that you want. Regular rubber bands should work just fine and the only issue I have seen with leaving braids in is if they are around fencing or trees that can grab a braid, one or two of them may get pulled out. Like completely out from the root if they get caught on something. Although I have had Koda's mane in braids for about 2 months (trying to train it all to one side) and have not had a problem with it getting caught by trees or fences.
 
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