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Hi everyone, I hope you're doing well. I'm interested in starting my own braiding business to help pay back student loans and pay for riding lessons with one of the dressage show barns near me, but I have a few dilemmas:

1) I've never braided a horse before. I don't own a horse or know of anyone who's horse I could practice on either. I've looked up tutorials and am considering purchasing the Lucky Braids DVD, but it's not the same as doing it yourself. I'd be looking at doing H/J braids, since that seems to have the most shows in Ohio. Where could I find a horse to practice on?

2) I'd be looking mostly at doing B-circuit braiding, since I don't have the skills to do A-circuit yet. But I looked on the OHJA (Ohio) website and can't find a list of B-circuit shows. It just has a list of mostly A-circuit shows. How do you find B-circuit shows in Ohio?

3) I've asked multiple professional braiders in they needed an assistant for the summer, or even if I could just shadow them. I haven't heard back from any of them. How do you start a braiding business without any formal experience in it? Where can you find clients, since I don't know hardly anyone in the H/J world?



For those who suggest a working student position to pay for lessons, I've had a working student position in the past and had to quit due to injury. I need something where I can get off my feet in-between clients and stop when I need to. With braiding, I can decide how many clients to take on. With a working student position, I can't do that and it's very difficult for me to stay on my feet for extremely lengthy periods of time with no break (causes severe swelling and limping. Yay, my life. On a side note, anyone know how long it takes soft tissue injuries to fully recover?). While I'd obviously be on my feet a lot for braiding, I could also take the following few days off. I couldn't do that with a working student position.

I know it seems like no matter which pathway I choose, there are soooooooo many obstacles standing in my way. But I'm not going to let that keep me down. I WILL succeed in my goals, regardless of whatever it takes. I will work my butt off and I WILL succeed in this sport.

Any advice you could give me is greatly appreciated!
 

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most lesson barns don't mind you tacking up your horse after a few lessons... I wouldn't see anyone having an issue with it for you to get there early and braid the horse- just no cutting the mane and I would only use bands, no sewn braids.
other than that I would just say don't advertise anything until you have done a few manes, take photos of them, and build a portfolio (you only need a few pictures) just to show people so they know what to expect

as for shows- there are also local shows which aren't rejistered on websites like that- I would reccomend joining as many face book groups as you can find for your area, would make a fb page just for braiding, and advertise and post photos on there

just bare in mind, I wouldn't pay for someone to braid a horse that I could braid my self (no offence, I don't compete so braidings never been a big deal for me)- meaning that I would only pay someone to braid a fidgety, pushy, and of course too tall to reach horse- so you wanna be confident with handling something like that.
 

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Are you in any way affiliated with a barn near you? (i.e. do you take lessons now, or did you take lessons somewhere previously?) I would contact them and see if they would let you practice, or perhaps they can set you up with someone who would like to make some money by teaching someone to braid. We have a lot of teenagers in our barn who make a bit of extra money in that way.
 

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You need to be good and later on, fast to make money at braiding and banding. You should practice on every horse you can get your hands on, horses have different textures, lengths and feel to their hair. You have to know how to work with all to make them look professional. It also helps to work with different types of bands, wool and other medium that you use to braid with, also different products that you put in the hair to give you grip see which ones you like. Before somebody will engage your services you have to be good. Most people that braid regularly for other people, get arthritic hands.
 

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No offense meant, but how can you plan doing a business braiding if you have never braided a horse before?

When I was showing, I would braid my horse every morning, and take the braids out every night. I find braiding manes and tails ridiculously easy, and couldn't imagine paying someone to do it for me.

I personally don't know anyone who pays someone to braid their horse. The only riders that don't braid their own horses either don't own the horse, or are professional riders that have grooms to braid, brush, wash, etc.

IMO if one wanted to braid horses professionally, they would have to first become proficient at grooming, and that usually means starting out volunteering services for free.

I have paid to have my horses professionally clipped, but that is because I am really not good at clipping! I find it tedious and back-breaking work.

Many people do pay to have their horses clipped, so maybe that is something you could look into doing.
 

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Braiding isn't difficult - if you know how!

Getting it to look perfect is another matter. Getting those whisky bits in and staying in.

As said manes are all different and you need to be able to adjust your methods for each horse.

Braiding tails is not so easy. Pull the side hairs to tight and the hair will break out from the sides, don't pull it tight enough and it will fall loose.

You need to spend a season practising on all types of horses and all types of braids.
 

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You need a TON of experience with braiding before making it a business. It's not as easy as it looks, and the people that do it make good money and for good reason--- doing it well is difficult and takes a ton of practice to consistently get good results on all types of horses. Starting a braiding business without a lot of experience braiding isn't going to work, unfortunately. You need to be able to braid all types of manes quickly and neatly, and know what types, number, and layout of braids will show off that horse the best. It's not a 'one size fits all' thing. A horse with an even mane is much easier to do than one with an uneven mane, but you need to be able to do both.

Braiding is a lot harder than it looks to do it well. Even people who have been braiding and shown for years often hire it out because someone who does it well is so hard to find, and worth it-- a braid job can make the difference between a win or no placing at the upper levels. Even a B show, I would not hire anyone who didn't have a portfolio of work and experience. Most people outside the upper level won't pay someone to do it, and once you get to that upper level, you're dealing with people who expect perfection.
 

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I've been braiding since I was 10 years old, so I guess I can nearly do it in my sleep now! Once braided my horse's mane during a thunderstorm in Braselton, GA in the dark, by feel alone, and was amazed to discover in the morning light that I didn't have to redo it! I only braided his mane because the storm was so bad, and I couldn't see to drive out of there, so just hung out in his stall with him while the storm raged around us.

I also braided my hair and my DD's hair, so maybe you could try braiding people hair first?

Occasionally at shows someone would be wandering around looking for braiding work, or posting flyers, but don't know of anyone that used their services.

As @SilverMaple stated, people who pay for braiding expect perfection and are not going to use anyone they don't know or with limited experience.


What about trying dog grooming or something? There is a much larger demand for dog grooming than horse braiding.
 

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I'd say first you need to learn about horse behavior so you know what to expect and how to act when you are around them. Then of course you need horses to practice on but personally I would not let a newbie braid my horses hair. The reason is only because if not done correctly it can damage the hair, cause hair loss or even harm the tail dock if it's too tight for long periods of time. My sister's qh had a decent tail until she sent him to the trainer's where they kept it in a braid. After a few months he came home and she took the braid out but his tail was a lot wispier. She thought maybe it was just hairs that broke off but they never regrew and he still has a wispy tail 20 years after the braid!
 

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Dog grooming requires a lot of training and experience to do well and safely, too (my best friend is a groomer). How about farm-sitting or pet-sitting? I know a trustworthy, experienced horse person to do chores is sorely needed in many areas when farm owners need to be away. Our vacations and days away were always at the mercy of when the neighbors were able to do chores. If they couldn't, we stayed home.
 

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I pride myself on turning horses out well. When running riding schools and many of the children going to shows, I would have a line of ponies to plait, manes and tails, talking about 12+. That speeds you up!

With a well kept mane it would take me 10 mins for a mane and 5 for a tail providing it had been well brushed out.

Someone suggested clipping but again that takes experience and believe me, the horses you will get to clip will be the difficult ones.
 

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I know someone who tried starting a braiding business as a sideline. She was already a very good very fast braider with thirty years of experience showing on the eventing circuit. She did both hunter braiding and dressage braiding. It was very hard. First, you have to get to the show the night before, and start at three a.m., in order to have all your clientele ready to go before the first class. Second, especially in dressage, the horses often have incredibly terrible ground manners (apparently the fashion in dressage circles is to never teach your horse anything except dressage, so as not to "ruin their spirit". Go figure). But most of all, at least on the west coast of the US, there is a closed system of pro braiders and groomers impossible to break into. They are mainly hispanic men who all know each other or are related to each other, who travel from show to show together and do all the rich people's horses. They make sure you don't get any work.

My friend could only get people to hire her who were such bad clients the Groomer Cabal refused to work for them -- people who stiffed payment, had totally unreasonable demands, screamed at you, had unmanageable horses.

She gave it up.

My suggestion is to find something you are already good at to hire yourself out for.
 

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I pride myself on turning horses out well. When running riding schools and many of the children going to shows, I would have a line of ponies to plait, manes and tails, talking about 12+. That speeds you up!

With a well kept mane it would take me 10 mins for a mane and 5 for a tail providing it had been well brushed out.

Someone suggested clipping but again that takes experience and believe me, the horses you will get to clip will be the difficult ones.
The OP mentioned A and B shows. For those types of shows a hunter mane has minimum 30 braids I’d estimate, and usually 40 or more.
 

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I have noticed that but never gave it a thought!

Way back it was traditional for ponies to only have five braids and horses seven. I would do most of the hunters with nine. We also do a much more balled braid than the longer ones seen in the US.

With the riding school ponies I would also band. Even with the racehorses I would band the first part and then sew them up.

I remember an American girl coming over and getting a pony ready for a show and doing so many braids it looked ridiculous.
 

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I remember an American girl coming over and getting a pony ready for a show and doing so many braids it looked ridiculous.
I’m sure what you meant to say is that it looked unusual to English eyes!

I am in awe of the skill and talent, let alone patience it takes to put up that many braids, I love the look, but would never attempt it, not my discipline, so no need.
 

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No, I meant ridiculous!

With the button braids you can detract the eye from a poor crest can't do that with a lot of plaits or when they just hang down only folded in half.

Dressage horses use to have so many plaits but now they are turned out with far less.
 

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I know how to do one kind of braid- sewn in button braids. Or as I call them "faucet knob" braids because when you don't like the look of a thin mane- massive is your only option. That being said I've braided quite a few horses and I don't think making it as an experienced or inexperienced braider is in the cards. Unless maybe you lived in Florida or somesuch horse show metropolis if the world. But you could get good at braiding your own horse, and then you'd at least not have that stress at a show. Dressage shows like few, large and imacculate braids.
 

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No, I meant ridiculous! M

With the button braids you can detract the eye from a poor crest can't do that with a lot of plaits or when they just hang down only folded in half.

Dressage horses use to have so many plaits but now they are turned out with far less.

Well I guess you did mean to put down our colonial cousins, very rude. I guess your attempts at braiding would look equally ridiculous if you were transplanted.

I honestly expected better, but I was obviously wrong.
 

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Lots of narrow braids makes the neck look longer. Buttons make it look thicker, IMO.

Thick manes are the most challenging, as one doesn't want the horse to look coarse.

Now that I trail ride, my braids are thicker and longer, and I don't use yarn on them either! :smile:

This picture I think I did too many, 14-15. I have since changed to only 6-8 braids
 

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