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Collecting your own horsehair can be very satisfying. Both tail hair and mane hair are used in horsehair art. Tail hair is used for braiding and hitching. Mane hair is used for making tassels and rope. If you would like to collect your own horsehair for a project that you're doing or want me to do for you, here are some easy to follow steps.
  Tips for Collecting Tail Hair
Tip (1) Please collect horsehair only from your own horse. If you are collecting from someone else's horse you must receive permission from the owner first. No matter how good your intentions might be, taking horsehair without permission is stealing. If you can't collect a particular color that you would like, you can purchase tail hair in a variety of colors from the Tail Hair Supplies page of our web site.
   
Tip (2) Do not cut hair from a horse that has a very short or thin tail. For example Appaloosas are notorious for having very thin wispy tails. Only cut hair if you can get a minimum of 18 to 20 inches on the longest hairs. Anything shorter than that and it isn't worthwhile. Your bundles will probably average 24 to 30 inches long. Longer is better.
   
Tip (3) If you are cutting hair from several different horses. You might want to keep track of who is who. Start by putting different colored hair ties on the bundles as they are being cut, to differentiate between horses. After the hair is clean, dry and combed out put a paper tag on the tied end and write the name of the horse it came from.
  Collecting Tail Hair
Step (1) Start with a tail that has been recently washed and combed. It makes your job a little easier. If that's not possible, it's ok, because you can wash the tail hair later.
   
Step (2) Hold the tail up so that you can see the underside of the tail. You should be able to clearly see the tail shaft. It is about 12 to 18 inches long. The hair grows off of the tail shaft. This is the area that you will be cutting hair from. Cut from the lower part of the shaft, this is where the hair is the longest. Always cut from the underside of the tail, close to the tail shaft, this will make the cuts almost invisible.
   
Step (3) Separate a small amount of hair, about the width of your finger. Hold the separated hair with one hand. With your other hand cut the hair close to the tail shaft. (see picture below)
 

This shows someone cutting about one finger width of tail hair.

Always cut from the underside
of the tail, close to the tail shaft, this will make the cuts almost invisible.

   
Step (4) While collecting the clumps of hair lay them down on a clean surface, like a piece of newspaper.
   
Step (5) You should be able to cut 2 or 3 clumps from the same tail without being able to notice that you cut any hair. Cut randomly from both sides of the tail shaft.
(see picture below)
 

This shows a single clump of
cut hair. A single clump is approximately the width of
your thumb.

One clump of hair is sufficient
for a small project like a
bracelet or earrings.

Two or three clumps would
be needed for a larger project like a necklace, key chain or stampede strings.

   
Step (6) Combine the clumps so that the cut ends are together. Tie them with a rubber band or hair tie. Now you're ready for combing and cleaning the hair bundle.
If you are sending the hair to me for a project this is as far as you need to go. I recommend that you loosely roll the hair and place it in a Ziploc baggie for shipping. To help identify the hair write the horses name on the ziploc baggie.
   
Step (7) Only the longest hairs are used for braiding and hitching so you will need to remove some of the shorter hairs. You do this by combing the hair backwards. I recommend using a wide tooth comb. Lay down newspaper to catch the hair because this can get messy. Remove the tie and grasp the hair about a third of the way to the cut end. Comb from your hand to the cut end that had the tie. Comb small amounts at a time. The shorter hairs will come out in clumps. Slowly work your hand away from the cut end continuing to comb out the shorter hair strands until you’ve combed about one half to two thirds of the way through the bundle. These short hairs are not used for braiding or hitching, so you can throw them away when you're done combing. (see pictures below)
          
   
Step (8) When you have gotten rid of the excess short hair, tightly grasp the hair at the cut end where the tie was and comb through the entire hair bundle in the other direction.
Step (9) Then tie the top of the bundle with a noose knot as shown below. To make a noose knot cut a piece of cotton string approximately 12” long. The same kind that is used to wrap newspaper for recycling or the kind you find in the grocery store used for cooking. Start your wrap about 2” from the cut end. Lay down a U shape with the string and then wrap around the hair bundle as shown in the example.  Make approximately 6 to 8 wraps. Lay each of the wraps next to each other and close together. Don't overlap the wraps. After the last wrap, feed the end of the string through the U loop to hold the noose knot in place. Pull both ends of the string to tighten. This type of knot is used so that it can be tightened as you work with the hair bundle later.
   
 
         start 2" from the cut end of the hair bundle
  It should look something like
this when you're done. This example shows 15 wraps
around, but 6 to 8 is plenty.
   
Step (10) Hold the horsehair bundle at the tied end and gently wash the hair with shampoo. Then rinse thoroughly with water. Do not use a conditioner; this will make the horsehair too slick.
   
       
   
Step (11) Lay the horsehair bundle on a towel to air dry.
 
   
Step (12) When the hair is dry, grasp the bundle by the tied end and gently comb through the hair. Your horsehair is now ready to be made into pulls.
   
 

 

 

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