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