Horsehair can be used to make a wide variety of items, including bracelets, necklaces and key chains. When the hair is properly cleaned and braided, it is durable and attractive and makes a great conversation piece. If you have a horse, or access to horsehair, you can make a horsehair key chain in a few simple steps.
Collect hair from the horse's tail. You will need hair that is at least 18 inches long but preferably up to 30 inches in length. Wash the horse's tail first, then comb it out and lift it up. Hold a small amount of hair on the underside and cut it off with sharp scissors. You should only take hair from the underside so the missing hair won't be easily noticed until it grows back. Use a rubber band at each end to hold the hair together.
If you don't own a horse and cannot find anyone who will give you permission to use their horse, you can purchase suitable horsehair in a variety of colours. Information on suppliers can be found in the Resources section.
Remove one of the rubber bands, then carefully comb the remaining horsehair. Hold the hair at the banded end and comb away from your hand. This process will remove any tail hairs that are too short to be used in making your keychain.
Tie a knot in the middle of the horsehair bundle and remove the remaining rubber band, then shampoo the hair and lay it out to air dry. This will ensure that you're working with clean hair and will also remove the horsey smell. You should not use conditioner because it can make the horsehair too slippery, which will make it difficult to create your horsehair key chain. When the hair has completely dried, comb through it one last time until the comb runs through it smoothly.
Remove eight to 15 strands of horsehair from the clean, dry bundle, band or tie them together, and pin them to a board with a pin or thumbtack. Braid the strands together using the pattern of your choice. Most beginners use a common three-strand braid like that type that is typically used in human hair. Tie, stitch or glue the ends of the braid. Create several of these braided strands.
Sew the braided strands together to create your key chain. You will want to use a pattern of loops so you have something to which you can attach your keys with a standard metal key holder ring. As long as the keys can be fastened to the horsehair, you can create any pattern that you like.
Attach a metal key holder ring to your horsehair key chain. Do this very carefully because if you rub the inner part of the ring against the horsehair too roughly, you could damage it and cause it to fray. Once the metal ring is in place, you can attach your keys.
When you make your first horsehair key chain, start out with a simple braiding pattern. Once you are comfortable working with horsehair, you can expand into more complicated patterns and create other items such as jewellery and hat bands using the same techniques. If you have access to horses with different coloured tails, mix different hair colours together to create an interesting effect in your braided key chain.
Horsehair is delicate and will fray from too much rubbing. Once you have put the metal key ring onto your horsehair key chain, never remove it unless it is absolutely necessary. The rubbing from repeatedly removing it and puting it back on can easily damage the horsehair.