I tested 3 braid sprays so you don’t have to!

I tested 3 braid sprays so you don’t have to!

Disclaimer: I was sent two of these products for free, and all opinions are ones I have developed through my use of the products. I have not been paid or sponsored by anyone associated with these products.

As a way to fund my tack-hoarding tendencies, I braid manes and tails. This time-consuming tradition proves a challenge for some riders. I’m happy to help them out, transforming unruly manes into beautiful braids.

I’ve braided for eventers, 4-Hers, and breeders at inspections. But most of my clients are foxhunters. Foxhunters have a different set of needs for braids than a traditional rider. They need their braids to stay in while galloping over intense terrain for a few hours. A different experience than a few minutes in a show ring!

For this year’s Blessing of the Hounds, I decided to put three different braiding sprays to the test. I’ve always used QuicBraid in the past, but I recently acquired two other sprays: Ponytail Products Mane Stay and Mane n’ Tail’s Spray n’ Braid. Why not try them all out on one horse?

My friend Beth’s horse Norman became my test dummy. I’m fortunate that Norman has a lovely mane, kept thinned and trimmed. Regular mane maintenance is essential to beautiful braids. A thin, neat mane makes it simple to keep braids the same size.

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Norman’s finished mane! I braided his forelock immediately after taking this picture, but of course, I didn’t take a new shot after that!

When testing these sprays, I looked at five qualities: grip on the mane, after-braiding hand stickiness, scent, spray mechanism, and 24-hour control. I look for a spray that provides grip quickly to the mane, but does not leave a sticky residue on my hands after use. I prefer a spray that smells nice, because who doesn’t? The spray mechanism has to be easy to use. Last, but definitely not least, the spray has to keep the braids looking sleek overnight. I also have considered cost into my results.

I ranked each category out of 5 points, then totaled up the points at the end. For the stickiness category, the higher the number, the less sticky my hands at the end of the braiding.


 

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QuicBraid

Cost: $10.95 from SmartPak Equine

  • Grip: 4/5
  • Stickiness: 3/5
  • Scent: 4/5
  • Spray Mechanism: 5/5
  • 12-Hour Control: 5/5

Total Score: 21/25

This spray gets the job done. I could easily grip the hairs, only a few seconds after spraying the mane. It does smell nice, as most of the Exhibitor’s brand products do. My hands were a little bit sticky after braiding, but it washed off cleanly with soap. I saw no problems with the braids after 12 hours – they were still neat and free from flyaway hairs.

QuicBraid’s spray mechanism is absolutely my favorite. I find that the trigger sprayers are much easier to use when braiding.


 

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Spray n’ Braid

Cost: $7.95 from Big Dee’s

  • Grip: 2/5
  • Stickiness: 2/5
  • Scent: 4/5
  • Spray Mechanism: 3/5
  • 12-Hour Control: 5/5

Total Score: 18/25

I was a little bit confused by this spray. I didn’t get a great grip on the mane using it, but after I was finished, my hands were incredibly sticky. The stickiness did wash off, but it was unfortunate.

The scent was fine. I didn’t really notice it as nice, but it also was not bad. The braids did stay in overnight. I dislike pump sprayers like this one, but it does appear that the larger bottles have trigger sprayers.


 

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Mane Stay

Cost: $11 from Ponytail Products

  • Grip: 5/5
  • Stickiness: 5/5
  • Scent: 5/5
  • Spray Mechanism: 3/5
  • 12-Hour Control: 5/5

Total Score: 23/25

Mane Stay is definitely my favorite braid spray! This product smells amazing. The spray is paraben and sulfate free and contains alfalfa, rosemary, and carrot extracts. I cannot say enough about how amazing it smells.

I had a great grip on the hairs while I was braiding, but my hands did not feel sticky at the end of the work. I was seriously impressed! Braids stayed in beautifully. I’m in love with yet another one of the Ponytail Products grooming products.


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Handsome Norman’s braids were still beautiful the next day! Here he is, all turned out for the Blessing of the Hounds. 

The Thrifty Equestrian pick? Ponytail Products Mane Stay! This spray smells great and works wonderfully. The only thing that could make Mane Stay better? A trigger spray mechanism. Otherwise, I couldn’t find a flaw!

What are your go-to braiding products? Any tricks for getting perfect braids every time?

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Product Review: Ponytail Products Show Pony Shine

Product Review: Ponytail Products Show Pony Shine

Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free, and all opinions are ones I have developed through my use of the product. I have not been paid or sponsored by anyone associated with this product.

Recently my mare has discovered burrs. There is only one burr bush in her field, and she has managed to find it several days in a row. And I don’t just mean one or two burrs. I mean, covered. Tangled. I own a unicorn.

Tess looking less than amused that I am attempting to undo her handiwork with the burrs.
Tess looking less than amused that I was attempting to undo her handiwork with the burrs.

Tess normally has quite a thick, full forelock. It certainly makes braiding easier on good days, but man, that forelock was not my friend when I was trying to get the burrs out. She managed to wrap her entire forelock up into a knot around the burrs. I was worried that I would end up pulling her entire forelock out trying to get them out!

So many burrs.
So many burrs.

Enter Ponytail Products Show Pony Shine! Equus Now! gifted me this serum to try a few months ago, and I haven’t really gotten to put it to the test before now. The high gloss serum is made of a “unique blend of Argan, Avocado, and Macadamia Seed oils.” Let me tell you, this stuff smells amazing. I’m pretty sure it’s nicer than the products I use on my own hair! The company offers a “human-grade horse grooming collection inspired by a passion for horses and an appreciation of timeless equestrian style.”

No more burrs!
No more burrs!

Not only does this serum smell amazing, but it worked perfectly for getting the burrs out. I covered her forelock in it, and the oils made it easy for me to slide the burrs right out! No pulling or tugging or losing precious forelock in the process. And it left her forelock soft and shiny after I was finished. I went through and did her entire mane and tail with it afterwards!

A little wavy, but it's all still there!
A little wavy, but it’s all still there!

Overall, I really like this gloss serum! Tess’s fly sheet has a neck cover that has made her mane a little bit frizzy, but it smoothed out her mane and tail nicely. The smell is great, and it didn’t leave my hands feeling sticky or gross. I feel like my hands were actually much softer after using it! I did struggle to get the tack room door open while I was in the middle of pulling the burrs out because of the oils, but no harm!

If you’re looking for new grooming products, give Ponytail Products a try! They are available at some tack stores, as well as on their website! I’m looking forward to trying some of their other products in the future!

Ponytail Products can be found on the following social media channels:

Instagram: @ponytail_products

Facebook: Ponytail Products

Twitter: @ponytailusa

Too Fun to Have Just One! – Smartpak Piper & Bradley Breeches Review

Too Fun to Have Just One! – Smartpak Piper & Bradley Breeches Review

I won’t even lie – I love breeches. A great pair of breeches makes me feel like I can tackle anything, from a dressage test to cross country. From bright colors and bold patterns to conservative tan, I’ve lost count of how many pairs of breeches I actually own.

Most recently, I’ve fallen in love with the Smartpak Piper breeches. I own a bluejean and brown knee patch pair and a charcoal and light grey fullseat pair. Please don’t ask me to choose between them because I don’t think I could! I also have a pair of the Smartpak Bradley Elite Knee Patch breeches in tan; I was lucky enough to find this pair used!

Since I’ve ridden in both styles of breeches, I decided to do a review and comparison of both! They’re all fantastic, so it’s impossible to pick a favorite; however, I do have things I like about both styles.

Piper Knee Patch and Fullseat

Bluejean Pipers looking sharp in the jumper ring. Suzanne Fisher Photography
Bluejean Knee Patch Pipers looking sharp in the jumper ring. (c) Suzanne Fisher Photography

I adore the fabric of the Piper breeches. With the perfect amount of stretch, these breeches move with me perfectly. I do find that I have to wear a belt with them or they sag slightly when I’m riding, but I wear a belt anyway, so it’s not a big deal!  I’ve also found that the calves fit slightly tight. If I wear the Pipers all day, my legs definitely have the marks to show for it when I take them off.

The Pipers are perfect for schooling or showing. Even the bright colors can look great in the show ring – I rocked mine in the jumpers at the New Vocations Charity show this year! I also love that Smartpak has come up with a “Piper Classic” breech in more conservative colors. The time isn’t always right for the bright colors, and I love having the option. Plus, I’ve heard it from Smartpak on Twitter that they’re working on a pair of white Piper Fullseats that I am 100% going to buy for dressage.

So ready for white Piper Fullseats.
So ready for white Piper Fullseats.

The fullseat Pipers are just as great as the knee patches! I’ve never felt so secure in my seat as when I wear these breeches. The first time I rode in them it was a whole new experience for me. I’ve always been a knee patch kind of person, coming from the hunter jumper world, but these fullseats have made a convert out of me. I’m pretty sure I will eventually buy every single color that Smartpak makes.

With a totally reasonable price of less than $100 for knee patch and fullseat options, the Pipers are a fantastic breech for everyone. Like the tagline says, they’re too fun to have just one!

Bradley Knee Patch

Bradleys in a lesson with Canadian Olympian Bruce Mandeville. Sophie Dash Photography
Bradleys in a lesson with Canadian Olympian Bruce Mandeville. (c) Sophie Dash Photography

I bought my pair of Bradleys used, but I’m pretty sure that they’re the Bradley Elite Knee Patch breeches. I’m not sure that I like them as much as the Pipers that I own. I don’t like the fit quite as much as the Pipers – the Bradleys sit lower, which doesn’t work as well for my body. I also found the fabric to be a little bit scratchy.

These breeches do look great! I recently wore my pair in a clinic with Canadian Olympian Bruce Mandeville, and I think they looked as sharp as my Tailoreds. I’m pretty persnickety about looking good in lessons and clinics, so I was pleased that these were able to fill in for my more expensive breeches, but I still looked just as put together.

I’d love to try the soft-shell version of the Bradleys as well. Maybe that will be my next Smartpak purchase! The Bradley breech runs a little bit more expensive, coming in just over $100 a pair.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, Smartpak has made two fantastic product lines. I love finding breech brands that offer a range of sizes in bold colors and patterns, all for a reasonable price. I found that the sizing ran a little bit small overall, and I went for the 36 instead of a 34. I absolutely adore that Smartpak is making breeches for larger riders. So many companies only make up to a size 32, 34 if I’m lucky. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

I would absolutely recommend the Smartpak Piper and Bradley breeches. The breeches are a quality product at a fantastic, affordable price. I love that I can get a show ring ready look on a budget, which is exactly what this blog is all about!

Shop Piper Breeches

Shop Bradley Breeches