No Braids, No Problem


Show jumperIn recognition of the current economic climate, promoters of all the major winter horse show circuits are examining ways to help exhibitors minimize expenses. While United States Equestrian Federation rules do not mandate braiding for horses that compete in hunters and jumpers, the winter circuit managers from Gulfport, HITS, Jacksonville and the Winter Equestrian Festival have decided to go on record advising all judges that exhibitors who opt not to braid for unrated classes should not be penalized.

All the promoters agreed that, while a small step, their action may be something that makes it a little bit easier for exhibitors to continue their participation in the shows.

Don Stewart, trainer and owner of Don Stewart Stables in Ocala, Fla., and chairman of the National Junior Hunter Committee, expressed his support for the action. “I think especially in today’s market, it’s imperative that we cut back somewhere and perhaps this is a place to start.”

Tom Struzzieri, president and CEO of HITS, Inc., says, “… we had a responsibility to look for opportunities to help exhibitors reduce some of their expenses, which is why we are coming together for this action and why we’ll continue to identify areas where we can alleviate other show-related expenses.”

“In talking to many, many trainers and competitors who compete annually in Jacksonville, Gulfport and Atlanta about the idea of somehow reducing the costs of showing horses, braiding seemed to be a common denominator,” says Bob Bell, show manager and president of Classic Company, Ltd. “These are unprecedented times, and we must consider all aspects of the sport so that all of our exhibitors can continue showing this winter. Some of our exhibitors may have budget restraints this year, and we hope that reducing braiding costs will help them continue to compete.”

Mark Bellissimo, CEO Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, (ESP) adds, “We will be asking all of our hunter officials (judges) not to penalize any entry in the un-rated divisions of the Winter Equestrian Festival for not being braided. We consulted with a number of top trainers and judges and they all endorsed this action. It is a great opportunity to defray expenses for our exhibitors in these difficult economic times.”

Save money and still get a classic hunter look by doing your own braids.  This step-by-step shows you how.


  1. Hmmm – seems to me that’s the very smallest expense they could find… For most exhibitors, I’m sure braiding is the least of their money worries!

  2. If the cost of braiding is prohibitive we could learn to do our own braiding. I would like to see more variety accepted in showing all around. I am partial to western myself. I love the look of the long mane on my new paint, but if I want to compete with him I will have to shorten it. I would love to see the show styles get back to more of a natural look.

  3. Big deal. I didn’t know it cost anything to braid your horses’ manes. It doesn’t cost me anything. If they’re so concerned about the economy, how about lowering the entrance fees and removing other unnecessary fees?

  4. I agree with the other comments, braiding should still be required and entrance fees lowered. This just makes it harder for the people that get money from braiding, so they get put out of a job

  5. hmmm, let’s see. They can afford to ship a string of horses to Florida, pay astronomical rental fees, but can’t afford to braid. Something seems a little off there. I agree, if they don’t want to spend the money on braiding do what the rest of us have done for years who can’t afford it. Braid your own horse, for crying out loud!

  6. Not all hunters have enough money to pay to go to huge shows. I went to one hunter/jumper show, and that’s because I can’t afford to go to them, but I have my own horse and can travel to other shows. I am really glad that they are allowing unbraided manes and tails because I never braid my horses mane & tail, unless they are just “fun”, not fancy braids.

  7. A lot of the riders rely on making money braiding in order for them to compete. I agree that braiding is an expense to the trainers, perhaps some riders however; most of the competitors I know, including myself, rely on these trainers, and various stables to hire me as a braider so that I can afford competing too. Cutting cost by eliminating braiders is not the way to cut costs. Why doesn’t the Equestrian Federation cut costs by lets say, having cheaper entry fees, or something along these lines, versus taking JOBS away from working riders, who without a braiding job, may not be able to afford competing at A level shows.

  8. I have to side with Eva from Cranbrook BC! I’ve braided my own horses for years, but it is not fair to be taking jobs away from the working riders! I think she said it best with her suggestion that the USEF cut costs for riders and trainers by lowering the entry fees and other associated fees!

  9. there areb other ways to save and to have braiders who depend on making money is not the way to go. fees and exhubersnt charges thst the show has is horrendous, it leaves a lot of people not able to show there, fees and misc. charges as bookeeping one of them is an outrage. especially in todays market. its bad enough its expensive but palm beach reeks in wasteful money..


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