How to Braid a Forelock
Thursday 19 January 2012
It is not uncommon to see horses at shows sporting messy forelock braids that are bumped up like the braids along their manes. Not only do these braids look terrible, they are the sure sign of an amateur braiding job.
Proper forelock braids are done with an upside-down french braid. While this may sound particularly difficult, with a bit of practice, it isn’t all that hard at all. You will need a double-length piece of wool to create this braid. It is also very helpful to have a blunt, large-eyed needle or bodkin to sew the braid.
Before braiding, be sure that the forelock is well combed out. Do not use show sheen on the forelock. All thicknesses of forelocks are braided the same way, but it is helpful if the total length of the forelock is around eye level.
Start out with one strand of hair on the left, and two on the right, much like a tail braid. This time, instead of crossing the top right strand over the left strand, cross the left strand under the top right strand. It is this crossing under process that makes the braid show on the surface of the braid rather than being hidden under the french braid. Now cross the bottom right strand under, so that it is now in the middle. With the next twist, take a small section of hair from the left of the forelock and add it to the hair as it crosses under. Continue until you run out of hair to add.
Braid the rest of the forelock until you reach the end. Then, tie it off, as your would tie off a regular braid.
This is where you need your needle. Thread the needle, and then push it through the base of the forelock braid so that it emerges around half-way up the french-braided portion. Pull the braid up under the french braid as far as it will follow. Now, sew the braid down its entire length, finally pulling the thread through the bottom of the braid so that it hangs straight down.
Once again, stitch upwards through the base of the french braid, folding the braid beneath itself a second time. If there is still some length to this braid, you might want to stitch down it again, but usually, there is nothing but a small button of hair left.
Remove the needle, and tie the wool beneath the braid in a snug double or triple knot. Trim the ends, and your braid is complete.
Removing a forelock braid takes a bit longer as you need to pull the wool though the stitches that you made. Make sure that you cut the knot completely off before trying it, as it will snag on the hair as you pull it through.
If you can perfect your forelock braid, your completed braiding job will be as nice as that of a professional braider. Practice up, and you could even earn an income at the show grounds fixing up braids for your fellow riders.