How Did I Live Without

Double plaiting the horse with an ultra thick mane

Now most of you have lovely horses with ‘normal’ manes, you know, the ones which you can put about 8 plaits in in under 10 minutes and therefore you question those who turn up un-plaited at events as ‘seriously I can plait in 10 minutes therefore so can everyone else’!

Let me introduce you to Fleur’s mane! Now Fleur surprisingly (or maybe not) is 1/4 Friesian and the trait she has inherited from her Dam’s Dam is a mane so thick three horses could share it and still have some left over. I have tried pulling it to thin it out and seriously it’s a none goer unless you have many hours on your hands to literally pull out hairs one by one as even then she starts throwing her head around. I’ve tried before and after exercise (i.e. with open pores) I’ve even tried oil of cloves but nope she was having very little of it and thinning combs had little effect other than making lots of spiky ends stick out everywhere. An old yard owner with a lot of patience did make a very valiant effort one year and did make it noticeably thinner but still it was enough to share amongst several horses. So yes I admit it I use scissors!

I grew sick of plaiting her and being left with golf balls only matched by a shetland pony so I was determined to find a solution and from a quip to friend that she had enough mane for two horses a solution was born in the form of ‘double plaiting’.

Now when Fleur is plaited she doesn’t have one row on one side of her neck like every other normal horse, instead she has a row each side. From the ground you would never know the difference and actually it could be considered advantageous as a plaited neck is said to look better to a judge than the un-plaited side so as both sides are plaited both sides look better. Well I keep telling myself that to make it worth the effort.

The first few times I will freely admit it took hours meticulously dividing the mane into bunches as normal then dividing each bunch in half again before plaiting. Quickly though I refined the technique and even though there is normally at least 30 plaits total often nearer 40 (15-20 each side) I can have her plaited in about 40 minutes which I would like to hope is rather impressive 😉

Yes it will never be acceptable in a show ring but for pure dressage and eventing it has proved the ideal and acceptable solution to achieving small (ish) flattering plaits. I have never seen another horse with two rows but I have countless people at events tell me how ingenious it is. Almost all people on horse back as people on the floor rarely notice!

If you think double plaiting might be the solution for you then here is a quick guide of how to achieve the look!

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1) With a mane comb divide the entire mane into equally sized sections using plaiting bands. ALWAYS start from the top and work your way down the mane. I have a plaiting band on the comb so I know the size required as well.

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2) starting at which ever end you so desire take your first bunch and using the mane comb split it down the centre of the neck so dividing it into two equal bunches. Secure the bunch on the other side of the neck to you with a plaiting band then plait the bunch closest to you. Personally I roll as I go but you can roll after you have plaited the entire mane if you prefer.
3) Work your way down the mane so you should have a row of bunches on the far side of the neck and a row of plaits on the close side.

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4) Walk round the horse and plait the bunches on the other side!

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5) If you haven’t already done so roll up the plaits securing with thread or bands subject to personal preference

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6) Stand back and admire your handy work and probably say to yourself I’m never doing that ever again! (ignoring the one plait that just won’t behave on the far left!)

Just to prove how they look from the ground here is a photo from either side of a dressage test last year.

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About the author

Katie