1. Plaiting Apron
My friend Aoife bought me this apron a few years ago and I absolutely love it. It ties around my waist and has loads of little pockets to store thread, bands, mane combs, scissors and other plaiting odds and ends. This means that I can plait away hands free without having to reach for things or leave them down. Trying to plait while holding things between my knees, on the horses back or in my mouth has become a thing of the past! My fleece apron is by Snuggy Hoods and is available online at many websites including:
You might be thinking that the bottle in this picture looks a bit battered. That’s because I have had it for at least five years. This stuff lasts forever! You might also be thinking that there is no need for this product and that gel works just as well. It doesn’t. Quic braid gives you amazing grip on hair when plaiting. It has a matte gummy type texture and I absolutely swear by it for getting plaits good and tight. This is vital if you are sewing in plaits especially if you are dealing with a fine or thin mane where it is hard to get the hair to stay tight from the crest. I have had to sew plaits into fairly short manes before (note to everyone, if you want plaits in a mane it should be more than 2-3 inches long!) and would not have been able to do it without this product. I section the mane for plaiting, spray one spray of this into the palm of my hand and smooth through the hair (it works fine on dry hair as well as wet) just before plaiting it down. I buy my Quic Braid at TRI equestrian but it is also available on many online sites including: http://www.horsehealth.co.uk/grooming/showing-prep/plaiting-essentials/quic-braid
3. Thread Picker
The worst part of sewn in plaits is removing them afterwards. Using a scissors works fine but as you need to get the lower blade in under the thread it can often lead to bits of hair being lost – not a big deal in a huge thick mane but a problem if a mane is already on the finer side. Thread pickers cost just a few euro (I got mine in a stall in the RDS but you can pick them up in any haberdashery or sewing supplies place. Stick the little sharp end under the thread, push up and its cut. Since using this instead of a scissors I’ve found it much quicker and easier to remove plaits without accidentally removing or breaking any hair. Do mind your thumbs as it is easy to nick them (I’ve done mine a few times when a horse moved!) but I would argue this is still a lot safer than a sharp scissors too.
4. Silicone Bands
If I am sewing in plaits I use these in the end of the plait before I stitch it in and if I am just doing normal plaits I use these for budding them. Silicone bands make getting to the end of a plait only to have a rubber band snap on your fingers a thing of the past. These bad boys just don’t snap! I have them in black, white and chestnut and after using them for a few years I won’t go back. If you are sewing plaits you can stitch through these bands several times without fear of them breaking. If budding plaits with bands you can stretch these bands to get them around a second or third time without them snapping.
While I use Quicbraid to plait down I still use a bit of gel or hairspray to finish off plaits. For horses that are not keen on sprays, gel is often a better idea (it also doesn’t go as hard and sticky as spray does). Just put a pea sized amount onto your palm, smooth between them and then cup your hand gently over each plait to apply the gel and keep fly away hairs in place. Price wise I have found that gel from the pound shop works just as well as gel from a chemist. Unless you are from the ‘Ross from Friends’ school of application a tube of gel will last for ages.