Thick Dressage Braids – Swedish Style

Here’s a great tutorial on how to make the fluffier Dutch/German/Swedish/European or whatever name you’ve been forced to call them.

Got such nice comments at shows (Not really on the ones where I was able to get pictures, figures.) on these braids during the summer.  Today – sharing a video tutorial on how to make them.  It’s in Swedish, but very self-explanatory.

how to make dutch dressage braids

Video by Elenore Simberg.  Just like me;  a blond, blue-eyed, Swedish dressage rider from the West Coast, with an awesome name.  All similarities end there – she’s an elite rider, trainer, competitor, educator, and, well, you get the picture.  In September, right before competing at Swedish Breeder’s she won in the National 5-Year Old futurity.  At 91%…

It’s too bad my chance of International Working Student has expired 🙂

Here’s the video!  Starts after a 30 sec. intro.

The change I’ve made on my own (from another top groom’s video) is to fasten the thread at the braid’s bottom (simply back-sewing it in-out 3 times), by the rubber band.

Time consuming, but helps since my mare shakes her head violently countless times before even making it into the showring, and this can help.

Pro’s with making this type of braid:

  • Less total braids to make.  Usually you’ll never make 9 of these.
  • Less chance of losing mane – braids are loose at top and hairs won’t pull out as easily.
  • Comfortable for the horse – no stretchy, tighty-tight feeling along the neck.
  • Still look OK if they “loosen up” some.
  • Easy (easier) to take out – because stabbing around with scissors around your horse’s neck at the end of a long day should always be made easier.
  • Great for young horses with thin necks.  The crestier the neck, the better I think it looks with a smaller, tighter braid.

Just because I really wanted to go home – Come along for a simple wintry ride with Elenore in Skåne, Sweden here:

 

29 thoughts on “Thick Dressage Braids – Swedish Style

  1. OK I watched the braiding video with an eagle’s eye and will have to try this. My only unanswered question was how short the mane would get if I kept on trimming the ends of those braids for the 100 or so practice times it’s going to take me to perfect this technique…🐴

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    1. Alli, you can do this no problem!
      On the trimming, the comment she makes is that IF you cannot make a nice, straight (-ish) edge, THEN you cut it off, since this is for a show and it’s the time for the horse to look it’s very best.
      If practicing, which I’ll be you only have to do once, then just ignore the splayed edges, roll it up anyway – knowing that stuff won’t stick out come show day.
      In my case – I do these braids everytime for show, sucking just a little bit less each time. So, some 8 times of practice or so 😉
      No brainer for you!

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        1. Yeah, she’s saying other tips too, like pulling the braid up at the beginning , not braiding down, if that makes sense. Helps keep it loose at top for volume.
          Now.
          Here’s the disclaimer. Check Horsesage’s comment here – it works worse than a bad joke with thick manes.
          This is part of why my braids don’t come out all that great, I don’t pull the mane, which thins it.
          Picture ugly round balls…
          I know your mare’s got some lovely locks. You might be hating me after the first time for even trying it 😉

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  2. O.k., sorry, I laughed at this video. This horse has hair like a human, not like any horse I have owned for the last, oh, 15 years. My horses always have tons and tons and TONS of hair, thick thick thick (did I say thick?) and bristly, not soft and fine like the demonstration horse, and when you braid them, there are many FAT braids with lots of little hairs sticking out, not beautiful smooth, slim braids. This horse’s braids reminded me of a Swedish fashion model: all smooth, slim perfection.
    So…Yes, you could technically make dressage buttons with my horses thick bushy manes, but you would have a whole lot of fat buttons (not so elegant looking), and there might be hairs sticking out since the hair is not perfectly manicured like this beautifully groomed demo horse. I suppose you could snip the stray hairs but what would that do to your next attempt?
    Ah well, it is a beautiful dream…

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    1. Hair like a human, hahaha. All sleek.Never thought of it that way.
      But, um, yeah. There’s a reason for pulling manes. To have manageable manes when braiding…
      I want to avoid going that route, so deal with some thicker braids.
      But then, with the ultra thick manes…. Oh, I can just see you trying this, cursing this video all the way!😂😂
      I’ve made some petty ugly, fat, ball looking things even with Valiosa’s hair.
      Thick hair – A French Braid dream! It would even stay in! Which mine doesn’t.

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      1. Ah yes, I was a dedicated mane puller, until this mare, who HATES having her mane pulled. I decided it was not worth the battle, that I’d rather have our interactions be positive. So I (shudder) cut it with thinning shears (so it doesn’t have quite that cut look at the ends) – frequently. It is very very thick, though. She’s an Andalusian! I could grow it and French Braid, but I prefer the shorter look (less hot in summer, more traditional dressage horse look).

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        1. I hear you on that. Right now I’m skipping any and all mane trimming. Waiting until January just to see how ragged it will turn out. (Getting there pretty quick.) But the pulling, neh. Maybe I can just brush it, um, often, and it will thin out naturally 😉

          I can totally see Star sporting the roach again… And you’d be killing it at the breed shows like that 🙂

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          1. EEEEK! Just say no to the roached look. I am not a fan, sorry, no. I know it’s traditional for the breed, but it reminds me of polo ponies or western horses or ??? No, no, no, I just cannot like it. So much softer and prettier with hair. Starlight is learning to wear a double bridle now, by the way: Big girl pants! Getting ready for third level (now if only we could get those flying changes down…).

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          2. It’s an aquired taste. Maybe more war horse than Western. With them I picture more ragged, long manes that no one’s touched except with a metal curry. (Probably exaggerating here.)
            But yeah, I like to have some mane 🙂 No roaching for us, no matter how easy the upkeep 🙂

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          3. I had a (smaller) double that I loved. I tried it on her and of course it was too small. Of course. So I measured and checked the size charts and took a deep breath and ordered it from England (cheaper than buying it here, and I could not find it used). Of course one part was slightly too big (how did that happen? I measured everything!). But I was able to punch an extra hole and it’s fine. Looks gorgeous. I’m currently renting a weymouth bit which we shall see if it works, not convinced yet it’s quite right for her. The bradoon is fine, I think. So complicated; fortunately my trainer is helping me with adjusting and evaluating how she is going in it. It does make a difference in how they collect. Miguel Tavora recommended she start working in it (said she was ready, and it would help increase her collection), so that’s why we’re doing it. Read his articles online, they are great!

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          4. I order from overseas often 🙂 Usually works well, but only for the brave… So glad it worked out! I’m anxiously waiting for a custom order for early Dec. It will be blog post worthy.
            If I ever make it to the double, in 15 years haha, I’ll need help from my trainer with the Weymouth for sure.

            Have resources link for Tavora articles? I’ll look on facebook.

            Don’t sell the Angel yet!

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          5. Here you are, reading material to inspire you! http://www.migueltavora.com/articles.htm
            Trainer helped me adjust the bits a bit yesterday and MUCH better ride in the double, Star much happier. I’m having to remember how to manage all those reins. Ugg, how I long for the simple snaffle. On the other hand, it is helping her to collect, I think, although I really have to focus on giving forward with my hands especially in the transitions. No hanging in the double or she will tell the world by opening her mouth (ick!). Sensitive mare, but such a good one.

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          6. Yey! You just made my day! New reading for me, since I have so much extra “sitting” time right now 😉 Thank you much!
            Seriously, this extra down time is dangerous. Couch shopping, so shameful.
            This will be more educational 🙂
            Proud of you and Star for experimenting with the double already! If all else fails, a gentle loop in the curb rein is always OK, especially at the start. She’ll probably gain new muscle from this – exciting stuff!

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          7. Oh yes, we have a gentle loop in the curb rein. Can’t have too much, because a swinging curb rein becomes irritating to the horse. This is part of what annoys me about double reins, and of course they are always slipping and creeping through your hands, so 50% of your brains is occupied with, “do I have too much curb? better shorten the snaffle again, loosen the curb. No wait, that’s too much, change it just a little. That’s good. No wait, she changed her head because now we’re cantering, adjust the reins, oh dear, now the curb looks too tight, loosen it, but GIVE with the hands…aaaauuuugghhhh. Give me my snaffle bridle back, please!” And I rode with a double for 18 months with Finn, so I know how. But I got spoiled back in the snaffle with Star. How quickly you forget…

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          8. It’s good to mix it up.
            I tend to get very sloppy.
            Well. I tend to get sloppy just with the snaffle sometimes, ugh.
            Always good with a challenge though, the beauty of this sport 🙂
            I’ve been reading off the Tavora site. Like it! Then I fall asleep haha. Been some long days.

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    1. Not too difficult, much easier than putting them in.
      Must have scissors. I usually cut them all after the show at home, but try my best to do it at show site if there’s time.

      Usually two cuts, and it all rakes free easily with fingers. Then I snip the rubber bands too, at the bottom of each braid, since I’ve got the scissors there already.

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  3. A fellow blogger made a cool tutorial vid in English, hopefully these are the same braids 🙈

    I hope you’re feeling better after the weekend

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    1. Hi! Couldn’t help myself and had to watch this one right now!
      OK, I like this method too. It has some major differences, in that it uses yarn instead of waxed thread. I’m completely comitted to waxed thread by now, holds even better, and I don’t think I will attempt braiding it in at the bottom. (Can just see myself failing there. Rubber bands are good.)
      What got me though is the way she pulls the braid up, without rolling it, separating the thread for a little “loop knot” and then stitching it in place.
      Brilliant!
      Way easier to get an even looking little thing, sticking up nice and tight! I must try this next time 🙂

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    1. Hey, thank you for checking in on me! 🙂
      Crutches are off. I’m walking at the slowest pace that is enough to annoy 99% of people, in the walking cast.
      AND, I went to see my horse for the first time today! Good times!

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