Braiding memories and love

PHOTO BY MATT BARTMANN Wearing a horsehair bracelet that memorializes a now-gone horse, Kelly Patrick visits with Dakota and Ringo.

by Sally Roth
North Forty News

Charming Billie. King Cowboy. The Amazing Heist. Kelly Patrick names each one of her handmade bracelets for the horses whose tail hair she braids into jewelry. Those three pieces memorialize a Thoroughbred, a couple of beloved roping horses, and the “heist,” in which a family surreptitiously snipped tail hairs from their friend’s favorite horses and sent it to Patrick to braid into a surprise gift.

Horsewoman Kelly Patrick follows a deer trail to get down into the lower Buckhorn canyon that cuts along their place.

The bracelet that adorns Kelly Patrick’s own wrist is a memorial to her horse Cowboy, now dearly departed. “Just the perfect all-around horse! You could put a little kid on him…or rope a bull off him.”

Her daughter Michaela, now 19, loved the horse, too, and when Cowboy passed away, she asked her mom about the possibility of making a memento—a bracelet braided from the long lock of hair they’d saved from Cowboy’s tail.

Kelly taught herself to do the complicated braiding techniques with the aid of online tips. “I fell in love with the braiding,” she says, remembering how she’d counted out 60 long strands of Cowboy’s tail hair to begin that first bracelet.

Soon she was making bracelets for other horse-lovers. The stories of the horses behind the bracelets are just as important to her as the careful work itself. “I’m braiding love into memories.”

The elegant bracelet on her own wrist includes three narrow braids. Two of the braids are dark brown—“from Cowboy,” she says, tracing the strands with fondness. The contrasting center braid of white? “That’s from Ringo,” her daughter’s palomino, who greets her with affection when she enters the corral.

“I’ve been horse crazy since I was little,” she says, and her love of western life is shared by the family. Son Tommy, 18, is a bull rider, “who wanted to bring his bucking bulls here.” A neighbor’s cows would’ve been far too tempting for the strong, hot-headed bulls, so that idea was nixed. Daughter Michaela, who grew up riding in gymkhanas, “likes to flank the bulls when they buck.”

Patrick’s children were 4 and 5 years old when she and husband Thomas moved to their secluded home outside of Masonville. “We feel so lucky to have found this place,” she says, looking over the wild open land dotted with yuccas and prickly pear.

Some of Kelly Patrick’s horsehair bracelets are simple; others include silver beads and charms.

A dramatic canyon carves along one side of the property. “So many brookies in there!” she says, peering over the edge to the ribbon of water far below. The kids didn’t fall off the edge when they were little, as she’d feared at first. And every one of the horses the family has had over the years, including dearly departed Cowboy, have had no problems navigating the rugged land.

Does she do other crafts? Kelly throws her head back and laughs out loud at the idea. She sweeps her arm around to take in the pair of Hahn’s macaws murmuring contentedly, the four dogs snuffling at the door, the cats, the horses basking in a sunny corral. “I love the animals,” she says, “and the wildlife.”

To see more of Kelly Patrick’s work, or to contact her for a custom bracelet (prices start at $85), visit her Facebook page at

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