Expert groom Jenny Ellis shares her step-by-step guide for plaiting your horse’s mane and getting him show ready.
1. Tidy him up
If your horse’s mane is long or thick, it’ll be harder to pull neatly, so consider whether it needs pulling, trimming shorter or thinning out.
Take just a few hairs at a time and keep checking it’s even.
2. Remove any tangles
Next, comb your horse’s mane through thoroughly so it’s tangle-free, then use a dampened sponge or plaiting spray to smooth the hairs over so they lie neatly to the right-hand side of his neck.
3. Section your horse’s mane
Decide how many plaits you want, then section your horse’s mane into bunches, working from poll to wither.
A plaiting band wrapped around your mane comb will help you check the width of each plait.
4. Start plaiting
Working from the poll, plait each section, keeping the base loose to avoid pinching your horse’s neck but making the length tight to keep it neat.
Secure with a plaiting band, leaving some slack for the next step.
5. Secure the plait
To secure your plaits, you can use a needle and thread or bands, but the latter are certainly easier! To roll up, fold each plait in half, then half again, and wrap the band around it repeatedly to secure.
6. Fix his forelock
Forelock plaits can be done as French plaits, or by simply plaiting the length of his hair, then rolling up as the rest of his mane. Trim loose hairs and use a dash of fixing product if necessary to finish the look.
Mane plaiting tips
- Traditionally, you’d use an uneven number of plaits, plus a plaited forelock, but many people choose to leave forelocks loose these days – it’s up to you and what suits your horse.
- For long-lasting plaits, don’t wash your horse’s mane too close to show day. A few days’ worth of natural grease will make plaiting up much easier and helps hairs stay together.
- Plaiting on show day and taking plaits out as soon as you can will keep your horse comfortable.