Monday, 31 October 2016

From horse's tail to bracelet

NEW on the Blog

Dear readers. When this blog first began with this post way back in 2012, I had no idea how popular it would be. People have asked for video demonstrations to help them with their projects. This is especially useful for beginners and so you will see, this post has a video to show just one way to get your sample of tail hair from a horse.

I hope you enjoy the videos as they are published. Lots more to come.

Best wishes, Lou

The horsehair must be cleaned, bagged and named. But before that, you must of course get the hair from the horse! Before you cut the hair you  need to know how long the lengths of hair should be, how much to should get and where to take it from.

Tips to cut the right amount of hair for a bracelet

  1. First, give the tail a good brush so that it isn't tangled. If it is smooth and knot free you can easily find the length you need and only cut just enough.
  2. Next start at the bottom of the tail and hold on to a lock of hair that leads to an area close to the horse's hind end where cutting the hair would not be visible. Doing it this way makes it easier to identify the longest strands of hair. You will need a generous 60cm plus to make a bracelet.
  3. The lock of hair will contain close to 200 individual hairs. Many of these will not be good enough to use so before you cut (as close to the end as possible) be choosy and see where the best hairs are. This is more important if you are wanting to have a bracelet made from a coloured horse and need to have enough of each colour.
  4. The cut horsehair should then have a rubber band placed around the cut end. It is then put in a plastic bag and kept dry.

Here is a video showing where I take samples from.

Here is some cut but unwashed hair

Preparing the horsehair

Now the hair needs to be washed.  I do this with shampoo, ensuring the hair stays together in a lock,  making it easier when it comes to sorting out individual hairs to use in the bracelet.

If the hair is very dirty or very dry, I use some conditioner. It might even need two or three washes to get it ready to use. It then gets left to air dry.

Sorting the horsehair

Just before the hair is completely dry it gets sorted. How the hair is grouped depends upon the size of the bracelet and any pattern to be used. Sorting still takes me up to two hours. The fastest I have managed this is one hour but the process is actually quite relaxing. It is important to get the very best strands for the bracelet and not opt for ones that may break or kink in a way that later spoils the bracelet. The strands must be a similar length and each group of hair (usually up to sixteen) also needs to be of a consistent length.

At the moment I don't have a wooden marudai to use to make the bracelet. So I use a glass jar with a suitable weight in the middle to help maintain tension as the horsehair is braided.

Foam kumihimo discs are ideal for working with horsehair because they grip the strands nicely while you work. For information on what equipment you need to get started, check out this post starter tools

Here is a video I have made showing how to sort hair and set it up on the kumihimo disk.

Preparing to braid

The Kumihimo braiding method is discussed in other posts. There is a wealth of information on kumihimo on the internet. If you look at my post  using beads in horsehair bracelet you will see a short video of how a simple kumihimo pattern works. What is key though, when working with horsehair is to allow enough length at start and finish to properly finish each end and avoid the work coming undone.

Maintaining a steady, firm tension is really important.

I have found it more challenging to work with different colours and patterns. I have recently worked on four patterned bracelets for the first time.

There is excitement when you see the emerging pattern. At the same time I feel a sense of anticipation and slight unease. It  is only when the bracelet is almost complete that I start to relax. Braided horsehair can be undone and re-braided if you make a mistake or decide to change your design, but you may need to wash and prepare the hair again in order to allow the hair to regain its natural shape. So far I have been fortunate and not had to start from scratch.

The finished bracelet

This one is a 'diamond' pattern.


  1. what a lovely idea and a great way to commemorate your relationship with your horse. Your bracelet turned out wonderful and I love that you included your journey through the process. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing. What an interesting idea. I wonder if you could do that with other animals as well?
    rubber band bracelets

  3. Which kumihimo size plate are you using to get this round style and how many strands of hair . I'm currently doing the 8 pieces that gives it the round beveled edge but I prefer the sound sleek style.. Love your site , it's been so helpful to me.

  4. Hi Sherry,
    Thanks so much for your positive feedback on the site. I am really pleased you are finding the information useful.

    From what you describe, your 8 strand braid is doing what it should do. There should be a gentle twist, like a pliable round tube that has been twisted, the braid pattern snakes around the braid. It should feel smooth and from a distance will appear truly round. A close up view will show the pattern detail of course. That said, the more hairs you add the more defined (in the case of an 8 strand braid) or the smoother (as with a 16 strand braid) it usually becomes. How tight the braid is affects the end result too. There are examples of braids on the blog's Facebook page made by members.They include 8 and 16 strand braids and all of them look lovely.

    Check out the post "What size bracelet to make" with some information on how many hairs per strand and so on. The size of disc is usually the standard 6 inches (15 cm) unless you are needing to braid shorter lengths of hair.

    I hope this explanation helps you and please check out our friendly Facebook group.

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