Braiding full manes can be a challenge. Here are tips to help you tame your horse’s wild locks.
The choice between traditional hunter or dressage braids isn’t always clear when it comes to braiding your horse’s mane for a show. Sometimes you need a braid or a plait that’s more breed appropriate (shout out to Andalusians, Gypsy Vanners, Arabians and Friesians!), plus horse shows certainly aren’t limited to only hunters or dressage. There’s halter, driving, western and breed-specific events—these are times when rolling up on the set with only a perfect row of flat plaits just won’t do.
Here to help is my friend Jessica Andrews, who is also the person behind @EquineBraidsLA! We met two boarding barns ago and have been friends ever since. When she’s not riding her lovely rescue mare, Nahlea, or braiding horses, Jessica is a Los Angeles-based hair and makeup artist (check out her red carpet work).
Another friend from a few barns ago, Jessa Osusky, is the owner and trainer of Eclipse, the handsomest and sweetest Gypsy Vanner stallion ever (yes, he’s at stud!). Jessa, who has ridden and trained Eclipse since he was green broke, shows him in all kinds of disciplines, from in-hand to driving to dressage. Eclipse has a lot of hair, and there’s no chance Jessa would ever be able to cram his luscious locks into button braids.
Like so many riders with non-traditional breeds showing in traditional disciplines, Jessa needs a braiding style that’s breed appropriate and tames all that mane. In the tutorial below, Jessica has created a French braid that transitions to a running braid that allows Eclipse to stretch and bend his neck while keeping his mane tidy and looking fancy. For Eclipse’s mighty mane, Jessica created five running braids, but the number can be adjusted to your horse’s particular mane.
Tools Needed to Create the French into Multiple Plait Running Braids
- A brush
- Rubber bands
- Clips to hold mane sections
- Conditioning spray (In this tutorial, Jessica uses Healthy HairCare Hair Moisturizer in this tutorial)
Mane + Tail Braiding Tips from Jessica Andrews of Equine Braids LA:
- When brushing the mane and tail, start by brushing from the bottom and work your way to the top! This keeps it healthy.
- Condition before or after every ride. (Jessica swears by Healthy Hair Salve by The Herbal Horse.)
- Do NOT braid it tightly when wet. The weight of the braid breaks the hair and you’ll be left with loads of fly-aways.
- If your horse has a thicker mane and tail, don’t braid too tightly if they will be left in for awhile.
- For competition, you can braid more tightly but don’t leave them in long.
Video and editing by Stephen Rivera.