The mane and tail braiding of the Lusitano horse at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art. (EPAE)
Author: Teresa Abrantes, director of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art
The renown Lusitano horses of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, (All from the Royal Alter Real stud farm), are presented during their daily work with their mane and tail either loose or in running braid. For the more formal occasions, the traditional ribbon of red, gold or white is added and laced into and between the running braid.
For these presentations, the grooms of the school spend many hours practicing to refine their skills, of not only for the braiding but also in the overall appearance of the horses.
The presentation of the horses in achieved in an authentic manner is vital to honour the years of tradition of both the school and the people apart of it. This knowledge is passed verbally from generation to generation. This requires a great experience for the braids become perfect and will not come apart or loose its shape and form with the movement of horses.
There are times where some horses are presented with a beautiful three-point Portuguese style braid. In some cases, this three-point braids are decorated with silk ribbons or laces. Some others are presented with an inverted running braid that is flat, unlike the previous one that is vertical. (one sits up separate from the hair where the other blends in creating a flat appearance)
To mix things up on some occasions, a different three-point braid is made by replacing one of the parts of horsehair by a gold string and adorned with trinkets of the same color.
Often you can see a horse that has their tail all plated and almost looking like it has been all tied up. This is done for the horses that perform the “airs above the ground”. The reason is to keep the tail out the way and not to get the tail stood on or entangled in the feet when they jump; this is done by having a braided tail topped with a knot. This braid also has two variants, the normal one, and the inverted one.
A tip for you to try these braids: Never use tack/mane conditioner, just water.
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