February 10, 2011

Learning how to braid dressage buttons!

On Sunday my ride was not as painful as I thought it might otherwise be. After an evening of icing and Advil, I determined that my injuries from Saturday were indeed limited to bruising and road rash. As such I decided to suck it up and ride Rose. I checked her over once more when I got to the barn, and her injuries were indeed limited to a little surface wound on her hock...no biggy. Boy did we get lucky!

After our ride I decided that it was time I tackle this dressage button braid thing. I can do hunter braids in my sleep, and I can't even tell you how many horses I've stayed up until 3am braiding before shows...and then also showing the next day. That was all back before Red Bull was invented. To be honest, I have no idea how I functioned on four hours of sleep all through college, but I did. Anyway, back then I always took great pleasure in my tail braiding ability as well. My braids were always straight and tight and held overnight and through show day. However, it has been years since I braided a tail and I never did dressage buttons back then either. So, like with most dressage stuff this is new territory for me and I decided that I should should practice before I actually need to braid for a show. I braided Rose myself for inspection in August, and although I got some kind remarks from friends, in my opinion my dressage buttons had a lot of room for improvement. I recently un-braided a couple of my trainer's horses, which gave me a great opportunity to carefully inspected the braids to try and determine the technique that was used to make them. These were the most beautiful dressage buttons I've ever seen, by the way. What I discovered was very different than any you tube video I've watched, and is far different that what I did back in August.


First I wet her mane and cut about 15 18"-long pieces of black yarn and found my pulling comb. Starting at her pole, I divided Rose's mane into comb lengths sections as I moved along. When my braid is half way done, I fold the yarn in half and ad it to two pieces of my braid and then braid it in as I finish the braid. Then, holding the bottom of the braid with my left hand, I wrap the yarn counter clockwise around the bottom of the braid twice and knot it. I then do all the braids just like that. Next it is time to pull them all up/make the buttons. Going back to the pole and my first braid, I wrap the braid around itself counter clockwise forming the button and then secured by pulling the yarn up through the base of the braid and then wrapping each string (one to the right, one to the left) around the whole thing and knotting it under the braid. Then I finish by clipping off the ends of the strings. It's just that simple!

Not half bad!

Now that is a tail that braiding was
invented for!

I managed to bring everything to the barn that I needed except for a pull through. I still managed to make it work using my fat fingers, but I know the end result would be a bit tighter if I had used a pull through. This also meant that I couldn't pull up her forelock braid or her tail (I know you don't braid dressage tails, I just wanted to see if I still "had it"). I took me an hour to braid her mane and tail, and aside from one of the buttons on the mane and a slight curve to the left on the tail braid I am pretty pleased with my work. Had this been the real deal, I would have pulled out that one funky button and re-done it, but it was time to throw feed so I pulled them all out and gave the girl a break for the night. It was a good exercise and one I need to do a few more times.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


  1. I never did master braiding. I remember spending four hours braiding my old hunter and it still looked horrific. I think my greatest downfall, though, was prep. Having the mane pulled just right...even length and even thickness...goes a long way. The other mistake I made was that I would complete each braid as I went, but now I understand that if you pull them through after you've done all the braiding it's easier to see that each one is the same and finished to the same length. Tails really were even more of a mystery. Right now, though, I'm torn between being happy I have a western horse and don't have to struggle through braiding, and wishing I could braid so I could hide the mess that her mane is!

    Your braiding job looks beautiful. I can't believe you were able to make those buttons so tidy without a real pull through!

  2. I am jealous of your braiding ability. I can do pretty well with manes, but I am at a complete loss with tails. Looks BEAUTIFUL. *thumbs up*

  3. Hi, Steph here from United States Equestrian Federation. I LOVE your blog! Do you mind if I post it on my blog?

    I haven't done a post on my injury yet, I need to. (and I can't post a photo of the grossest part where she head-butted me because it's my boob, LOL!)

    I shall follow along on your adventures,

  4. Steph: Welcome to my blog and your are most welcome to share it! I'm flattered that you enjoy it. Please don't share my facebook name though, in blog world I go by DS. Remember, ice, Advil, repeat (in my case a good bottle of wine helped too). Thanks!

  5. Awhhh the memories of those early mornings as a groom... I wish they were more distant haha. Awh no braids look brilliant fair play missus. You defiantly still "have it" :D



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