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Why Professional Banders and Braiders are Worth Every Penny


It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. A beautiful mane job is a must-have for correct, winning presentation at elite levels of showing. But no matter how much you might be tempted to DIY or how much time you’ve spent practicing your mane maneuvers, for World and Congress level shows, you’ve got to have every strand in place. For that, you’ll want to call in a professional braider or bander. Whether you enjoy braiding or banding your horse or the mere thought of having to put a band in a forelock brings you to tears, you have to give credit where credit is due: professional braiders and banders make perfection look effortless.

They’ve got years of experience

If you’re hiring a braider or bander, this isn’t their first rodeo. They work major horse shows and circuits non-stop and may work on anywhere from 150-200+ horses per event. You can’t dream of achieving the factory-perfect precision required at a World Show if you haven’t put that much time into practicing. So, unless you’re going to line up 100 of your friends’ horses and go to town, you’re better off spending the money on a professional mane job.

They stay up all night so you don’t have to

At a competitive, top-level event, you need to make sure you’re bringing your A-game to the pen. This means that you need to eat, sleep, and practice; you know, the things most professional braiders and banders only dream about at a major show. Now, while maybe you could fit in some braiding or banding on one horse, that’s another hour-plus of your time that should be spent mentally or physically prepping to be at your best. And, if you’re a trainer, you know you don’t have the time to get your whole group ready, and their manes, too.

They’ve got the tips and tricks for every problem

Mane too thin? A professional can put a weave in. Mane too thick? They’ll prep it until it’s just right. Not sure how to best lay bands on your halter horse’s neck? They’ve got you covered. Unsure of the current trend or style for your event? What color bands or yarn to use? They’re on point. They’re professionals because they’ve developed this expertise, and this is as much what you’re hiring them for as the actual physical work of braiding or banding.

They’ve got high standards

They’ve worked on thousands of horses, and they know how to maximize everything from the size of the braids/bands to the length of the actual mane to make sure your horse is being showcased at its best. For mane perfection, you’re looking for a professional who can create clean lines which will showcase your horse’s conformation or frame under saddle.

They can enhance your horse’s conformation

If you’re showing in halter events, you know that you’ve got to have your horse’s neck looking as correct as possible. A great banding job can make or break how the profile and fine details look when it comes to conformation. If the bands are too thick or are spaced too far apart, it will shorten the length of the neck. A professional is going to know precisely where to place each band to maximize every inch of beauty and muscle for your halter horse.

They’ll go the extra mile to help you in a pinch

Did you leave your horse alone for five seconds only to find he’s rubbed out the first 20 bands? They’ll do what they can or phone a friend in to bail you out. Decide at the last minute to throw your horse in that open hunter under saddle class, held the next morning? They’ll be there, at 2 am, putting the braids in for you.

Professional braiders and banders are just a few of the unsung heroes of major horse shows. What professionals do you rely on when you need everything picture-perfect, and what makes them worth their weight in gold? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author: A lover of horses who loves to write, Rachel Kooiker competes in all-around Amateur events with her APHA gelding, Hoos Real. Together with her husband, Drew, they operate Kooiker Show Horses, where they stand APHA World Champion Im the Secret and raise select APHA Halter and Performance prospects.

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