Making your own ribbon browbands is heaps of fun and they are popular in the show ring (except for turnout classes when a plain leather browband should be used).

When deciding on colour combinations, you need to take in account your horse's colour as well as the colour of your own riding outfit. Bright colours such as reds and yellows should be avoided if your horse's coat is a bright colour (eg chestnut) so stick to darker colours such as greens or blues. Greys, bays and blacks look good in practically any colour combination...if you can decide on one! Be prepared to spend hours ribbon-hunting and comparing different colour combinations.

If you want a more exotic look, use metallic gold, silver or even velvet ribbon. The sparkle of these looks especially good during indoor competitions. If your horse has a wide blaze, avoid using white in your browbands however if your horse has little or no white face markings, then using white can really give his appearance a lift.

You can colour co-ordinate browbands to match your jacket, tie, buttonhole and if you are a junior rider, the ribbons in your hair. You can make browbands in your Pony Club colours and with the popularity of school competitions, your school colours as well. The beauty of DIY ribbon browbands is that they are cheap to make. A metre of ribbon costs around 70 cents to $1 and you only need two metres of each colour for each browband.

The smaller the ribbon, the smaller your finished pattern will be. For a two-colour sharks-tooth pattern, 7mm wide ribbon works well but you can also use 5mm and the narrower patterns tend to look better on smaller horses and ponies. Nylon ribbon is more serviceable than satin. Buy some inexpensive browbands...we found some for around $8 at Horseland stores.

Making them is very fiddly, two hands don't seem enough! But with practice you will be whipping them up in no time, maybe even make some for your friends. Care for your browband by using it only on a clean, dry horse and remove it when not in use. You can sponge any dust or dirt off but it becomes too grubby, then you can easily re-do it with new ribbon. The sharks-tooth pattern is the easiest to start with.

These instructions are very basic but gives you somewhere to will need to practice, practice, practice to get the knack of it!.

Take around 2 metres of each ribbon colour and knot flat together, leaving approximately 5cm of tail. Use 7mm wide ribbon or if you want a finer pattern (for a pony) use 5mm wide ribbon. Anything wider than 10mm is too wide. Insert the browband into the "V" at the knotted end of the ribbon. You will be finishing your browband with a a matching knot and tails at the end but if you want a plain finish, use a hot glue gun to glue the ribbons together, then glue to the underside of the browband and start off that way. Alternatively you can turn the knots to the back of the browband and sew in place, cutting the ribbon tails off.

Bring the 'behind' ribbon forward and down over the leather and under the front ribbon. Angle the ribbons so that they cross over on front of the browband.

Bring the behind ribbon over the browband to cross over...and that's about all there is to it. You just keep bringing the back ribbon to cross over the front one. Try to keep everything on an even tension (this is hard to do!) as too loose will look slack while too tight will stretch and distort the ribbon. If you have to stop mid-browband, use a peg to hold everything temporarily in place.

More of the same, crossing the ribbons at the front of the browband, creating the sharks-tooth pattern. Try to keep the ribbon edges parallel to each other and not leave any gaps. Keep going to the end of the browband and and finish with another knot OR glue in place.

If you have left the ribbon in tails in place, corner cut the end of each ribbon and you are all finished!

CLICK HERE for instructions on how to make Browband Rosettes.

© 2002 Horsewyse Magazine

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