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7 Steps to the Perfect Plaits

Plaiting seems to be the source of pain for many horse owners. Some of the things I’ve heard include

-        ‘I can’t plait’

-        ‘My plaits always look like golfballs’

-        ‘I hogged him so I didn’t have to plait’

If this sounds like you, read on for my top plaiting tips ahead of the summer shows

1.      Start with a tidy mane

A mane which is all one length and has been thinned, will be much easier to plait than a mane which is wild. If you know that you will need to plait, make sure you plan ahead and tidy in advance. If you do it all in one go it can unsettle your horse and may make it harder to plait next time.


2.      Get your horse used to it

Many horses find it hard to stand still and be plaited if they aren’t used to it. This then leads to a stressful situation where you are up against the clock and they keep fidgeting. Giving your horse a haynet or something else to focus on can help them to associate the experience with something nice.


3.      Keep the plaits an even size

I do this by using a comb to divide the mane up, making sure to always split the hair on the same tooth each time. This will have the added bonus of making a nice straight line where the hair is divided.


4.      Add some grip

Plaiting a mane that has just been washed is a nightmare, it can be really slippery. You can solve this problem by damping down the hair with some water or there are a variety of products on the market to help improve the grip. This will also have the added bonus of helping the hair to stay in the plait.


5.      Keep the tension

A tight plait will have much more chance of staying in and it will look neater when it’s rolled. You don’t want to be putting your whole weight behind it as this can hurt your horse, but an even pressure similar to plaiting another person’s hair will give you the desired result.


6.      Get your needle and thread out

I personally think that plaits which are sewn in are much smarter than banded plaits because they stay rounder and you can have more control of the shape. This can take a bit of practise if you haven’t done it before, but it can end up being quicker because you don’t have to worry about bands snapping.

7.      Don’t give up

The first time you plait they might not look quite like they do in the magazines, but like any new skill, the more you practise the better you’ll get. If you want to get more hours in, ask your friends if you can plait their horses, most people are usually very grateful for the help.


Plaiting is just one part of smart turnout and I’m excited to be joined by award winning groom Bekki Schofield later this month. Bekki will be sharing her top turnout tips, you can find more information HERE


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