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

A dampened sponge or plaiting spray smooths the hairs

3. Section your horse’s mane

Section your horse's mane into even bunches

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

Plait each section, starting at your horse’s poll

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

A needle and thread can secure your plait (although it’s a bit fiddly!)

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

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.