Horse-Showing Style

How to make the perfect hair bun for horsemanship.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

There are a few things that are essential to a stellar horsemanship ensemble. While style doesn’t top good horsemanship itself, it does send a message to the judge. A fitted shirt, a tight hat and a tight bun all complete a professional look that tells the judge, “I’m here, I’m ready to compete.”

“A tight bun just finishes off the look,” says Carey Nowacek of San Antonio. “If you had really tight clothes, a tight shaped hat and a sloppy bun, it just doesn’t look right. Having a tight bun, tight hat and tight clothes just pulls the look together.”

Carey knows a thing or two about being a horsemanship fashion trendsetter. Her plain black button-down shirt made quite a splash at the 2010 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show when Carey was crowned the horsemanship world champion. She also won the inaugural Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show utilizing the same look.

Through years of showing American Quarter Horses, the senior at Texas A&M University has perfected the art of building a tight bun. Carey has even been dubbed the designated bun-stylist for her teammates on the Texas A&M University women’s equestrian team.

Even though the bun is a trademark style for horsemanship competitors, Carey says that it is her fallback hairstyle for every western event.

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“People, of course, wear a bun in horsemanship, but some people like to wear a bun in western pleasure and trail just because it looks different,” she says. “But you should for sure (wear one in) showmanship and horsemanship.

“I wear a bun in every event, because I have really long, thick hair,” she explains. “It was kind of distracting in trail and western riding and pleasure because it moved around a lot, so I wore a bun.”

Instead of trying it out for the first time at a show, Carey suggests that competitors play around with making a bun at home - it takes a long time to perfect the art of making a tight bun.

The Essentials

Carey says there are four must-haves to make the perfect tight bun: hair spray, bobby pins, hair bands and a good hair net.

Another thing to keep in mind before you start your bun is whether your hair is clean or dirty. Carey prefers to leave hers dirty so that the bun holds together better.

“It’s so much easier (to do a bun) when it’s dirty,” she promises.

However, Carey frequently helps friend and teammate Cassie Mantor of Corpus Christi, Texas, with her bun, and Cassie prefers to wash her hair the night before a show.

“I’ll hold her hair up and spray hair spray in the hair so it’s stickier. When you do the bun, it’ll stick better, and you’ll have to use less hairspray on the bun,” Carey explains.

When it comes to hair spray, Carey stands by low-end hair spray.

“Usually the cheaper hair spray works pretty good. Although we’ve found that the more expensive stuff smells better, so we like that,” she says with a laugh.

Carey says that finding a good hair net usually isn’t too hard, but you want to make sure that you choose one that isn’t too thick. Look for a net that’s thin and will blend well with your hair.

“The English girls use the really thick ones - those aren’t very good,” Carey says. “Hair nets come in blond, brown and black, and you can just get them at Target - it’s really easy.”

Constructing the Bun

Carey does her bun differently than the way she does Cassie’s bun, and it all depends on the length and thickness of hair.

To start a bun, Carey prefers to start with a smooth pony tail, which will be the foundation for her bun. Placement of the pony tail, and thus placement of the bun, is very important.

“(The placement) depends on the shape of your head and where your hat falls,” Carey explains. “Usually you want a lower bun, but not at the base of your neck. There still should be a little bit of hair showing at the bottom. You should have about two inches of hair showing at the bottom of your neck (under your pony tail).”

Carey says the top of the bun should hit right below the hat.

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With her own hair, Carey twists it clockwise, then winds it clockwise into a bun. She secures the bun with a hair band and then adds the hair net at the base of the bun.

Since Cassie has longer hair, Carey uses bobby pins to hold the coils of hair in place while she’s winding Cassie’s bun.

If you have shorter or thinner hair, Carey suggests wrapping thin plastic hair bands down the length of your pony tail and spacing them apart every inch to two inches. In this instance, instead of twisting and wrapping the pony tail, Carey suggests rolling your hair up from the bottom, then pinning it into place. Making buns this way will make your bun a little cheap levitra professional bit fuller, Carey says.