We used to have a horse (he was the cutest Haflinger Pony ever, I think you will agree) and our daughters used to do 4H and various dressage and jumping shows with him.
When one of our close 4H friends had to euthanize her ailing and elderly horse, she asked me if I would make her a bracelet with her horse’s tail. These things are kind of pricey online or as custom orders and I was quite honored to be asked to do this, but I’d never done it before. Being a “can do” person I said yes. To see why horse hair jewelry is not the usual jewelry that I make, here is a picture of what I usually make.
My test was the blonde one (with mane hair that I’d kept after we’d sold our horse) and the actual bracelets for our friend and her mom are the dark gray with light highlights. These were tail hairs that had been snipped from our friend’s beloved horse. The end results of the two separate types of hairs proved that tail hairs are stronger, longer and less fluffy and this is what you should use for this project.
This is our Haflinger's mane hair, note how fluffy it is.
Tail hair from our friend's horse. Note how long and perfect it is for braiding.
Please note that I've made suggestions that are not sterling silver to keep your costs down.
- tail hair from a horse (about ¼ inch or 5 mm in diameter in a bundle) and about 2 feet long or 40-50cm long tied with a rubber band.
- shampoo, plastic bowl, warm water, scissors,
- pliers (needle nosed), and crimping pliers,
- two part epoxy,
- jewelry end caps (for necklaces or bracelets),
- Beadalon bead stringing wire (12 inches or 30 cm),
- double cupped bead tip (2),
- crimp beads (2),
- lobster clasp and jump ring
- additional beads in whatever color scheme you like
- Wash tail pieces gently. You really want to do this otherwise your bracelet will have a horsey smell and you need to remember these are tail pieces, somewhat near the exhaust of the horse.
- After the pieces have dried properly, decide on the diameter or how much hair you want in the braided/plaited bracelet. Doing some sample braiding will give you an idea of how thick it will be when it’s finished. You also want to make sure it will fit the diameter of the end caps you have chosen.
Test braid for diameter thickness
- Cut the length of Beadalon stringing wire that you need and a bit more. Using a small rubber band (orthodontic rubber bands are perfect!!) tie off the amount of hair you need.
- Thread the Beadalon through the rubber band bunched hair and snip off the hair to make it a nice neat edge. Mix your two part epoxy and dab it on the neat edge of horse hair so that the glue is embedded in the hair and it also has a tail of the Beadalon threaded through it. Allow it to dry properly.
Tail hair cleaned and ready for braiding. If you look super closely you will see the Beadalon wire (it's light silver).
- You are now ready to braid or plait your horse hair. Make it as long as you need for a bracelet, but don’t braid in the Beadalon wire. If you are skilled in the braiding department you can do braids with more strands than three. Obviously I'm not, so I opted for the three strand braid or plait (if you are of British origin).
Braided mane hair, note the loose ends and the fact that the braid gets slightly narrower at the bottom. This is because it's mane hair, and not as suited to this project as tail hair.
- Tie off the other side with a small rubber band and snip a neat edge of the horse hair.
Glue this end too as you did the other one.
- Decide on your bead pattern. I used freshwater pearls, sterling round beads and Czech pressed beads.
- Thread your Beadalon through the horse hair and bring it up where you want the beads. Do your bead pattern and then thread the Beadalon back to the back of the bracelet and bring it up where you next want the pattern of beads. Continue in this way until you have your bead pattern where you want them.
- Thread your Beadalon wire through the end of the glued area.
- Thread end caps over the ends and place some two part epoxy in the inside of the end cap.
- Thread the double cupped bead tip next facing outwards and then thread the crimp bead. Squish the crimp bead with your crimping pliers or needle nosed pliers so that it holds the end cap on as the glue dries. Do this to the other side too. Allow for drying/curing.
- Close the double cupped bead tips over the crimp beads, add a lobster clasp to one and a closed jump ring to the other using your needle nosed pliers to help you close them.
- If any horse hairs are straying you can trim them off with sharp scissors or nail clippers or use some hair spray to help hold things in place and condition the horse hair bracelet.
In the picture is a different bracelet on the left. I made this one with crocheting the strands of horse hair in a chain stitch and got the lacy effect which is also nice. Because of the springiness of horse hair it ended up looking looped and not like a chain stitch.
Here's also another idea that you can do with horse hair - key chains. The same techniques of the bracelets apply. Tie off the horse hair with a piece of 22 gauge wire in the middle and fold the hair so that it is in an upside down "U" shape. Add some epoxy glue to the top and pull it high into the bead cap with the wire through the bead cap hole. Then use the wire to attach some beads and then attach it to the split ring. This is a great gift for guys and girls alike.
Feel free to share this blog post with any horsey friends you may know. It really is not that hard and requires very little things that most homes have and all the jewelry findings can be purchased on Amazon or most craft stores. It’s also a lovely way to remember a deceased horse or carry a part of your favorite horse around with you. This look is also fabulously “Western” and kind of Boho too which is trending at the moment.
I’d love to see photos of the bracelets that you make if you've been inspired by this blog post. You could email me the photos or you could tag me on Instagram @andiclarkejewelry. I’d love to see how they turn out and what color beads you use.
If you like jewelry making in general I have a few other blog posts that you might like to read:
- making your own jump rings
- making your own ear wires
- resin pendants
- torch firing PMC (precious metal clay)
To see more of my nature inspired jewelry and upcycled china jewelry, you can find what's currently available here.