Last Updated on March 11, 2022 by Allison Price
The plait. All of us have been there. Early on show mornings, fiddling with thread and bands, cold fingers, horses who can’t hold their heads and neck still. Many people cringe at the idea of plaiting. However, with our simple guide, you can feel more confident about your ability to plait, have a better experience and get great results every time.
WHY DO YOU PLAY?
Plaiting horses’ manes dates back to centuries past when it was common to tie the manes of horses up to make them easier to transport. It is a British Army tradition, but also used in hunting where it was considered polite and respectful.
Today’s equestrian world involves plaiting for dressage, show classes, pony club, hunting, and dressing (after the first meet). Plaiting is also a popular option for show jumping. Different competition levels may have different rules about when or not plaits are required. Plaiting can also be used to highlight the horse’s neck and topline.
Nowadays, it is more common to braid with bands. Thread or a combination can be used. You can use water to dampen your mane, or gel or spray. If your horse isn’t bothered, you can apply some hair spray to hold the plaits in place. Plaiting with bands can be easier, and that is why we chose to use bands as our step-by-step guide. Bands were created to make it easier and save you time.
HOW TO PLAT WITH BANDS
First, ensure you have the right colour bands to match your horse’s mane colour. For example, a grey horse should use white bands. To match the different mane colors, you can purchase bands in white, black or brown.
1.Brush the hair to get rid of any knots and tangles. Mane conditioner should not be applied to hair as it can make the hair slippery and hard to hold on to.
You can either dampen your mane with water and a brush or use gel to dry it. This makes it easier to manage.
2. Separate the mane into equal sections. The total number of sections, including the forelock, is an un-even number. To hold each section in place, band it.
You should have plenty of bands and a small toothed pulling brush on hand.
3. Take the first section of your hair and take out the holding band.
Divide the hair into three sections and comb it again. Finally, tie the hair down using an outside-over-in repetition. The best way to keep the plait straight is to pull the hair back and pull slightly upwards. Secure the plait with an elastic band at its bottom. Continue this process down the entire mane.
Once the plait is complete, fold the bottoms up so that any loose ends are out of the way. Secure the edges with a band. The plait can be rolled up and tied with a band. It should be folded approximately twice. The result will be a small bun at the end. Then secure it with a few more bands to hold it in place. The neater the result, the tighter the plait. Continue this process until the entire mane is plaited.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FORELOCK?
5. Stand in front of the horse’s head when you reach the forelock. After brushing the forelock, dampen the hair and then take a little bit of hair from the middle to plait. Next, work in sections from the outside. Place your fingers outside-sideways and then gather. Once you have reached the bottom, secure the hair with a band. You can tidy up the front by tucking the ends under the plait, and then securing it with another band.
Spray can be used to fix the plaits. Spray is okay if your horse does not mind it. Then you can admire your work. Plaiting is one thing that can be learned by practicing. Practice when you can so that you feel less pressure on the day of a competition. Good luck!
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!