"propping the horse-hair pad against her head"

In the 18th century high-piled hairstyles were very popular amongst ladies, particularly those of the upper classes: the higher and more ornate the better. Pads made of horsehair or cage frames were used to construct hairstyles and intricate decorations added to them; hours could be spent making one style which would then be left in for as long as possible due to the amount of work that had gone into it. By the Victorian times hairstyles were not quite so over-the-top, neatness and elegance prevailing, but a horsehair pad may well still have been used as a prop. The following website offers more interesting information on hairstyles throughout the ages.