How to create perfect plaits and braids
Knowing how to plait a horse’s mane to make the animal appear at their best is an art.
A well plaited mane can enhance as well as disguise conformational issues. Sitting plaits on top of the neck can improve a weak top line. Lengthening the look of a neck can be done by adding in several more plaits. To minimise the look of a cresty neck, sit the plaits lower into the mane. To give the neck a slightly shorter look, space the plaits out, to give the neck a wider look.
A heavyweight hunter type looks better with relatively substantial plaits spaced apart whilst smaller plaits set slightly closer together complement a finer type of animal.
Plaits can be sewn in; we recommend our Waxed Cotton thread and large eyed needles. However, if you are practicing or in a hurry, stretchy silicone or rubber bands are practical, and quick and easy. Stitching is more correct for the show ring and looks neater and will keep the plaits more secure. To undo stitched plaits, use a Quick Unpick rather than scissors as there is less risk of cutting into mane hair.
The more conventional round button plaits are acceptable for most disciplines, however, there are some breeds that are always shown unplaited and include native ponies, pure-bred Arabians and cobs that are shown as Traditionals. Show cobs are shown with hogged or roached manes, but it’s always worth checking with the breed or show society before preparing for an event.
In the UK traditionally a mane is plaited with an odd number of plaits, and evening up the number by finishing with the forelock. In the US, show and competition horses tend to follow a trend of many more closely positioned button plaits. Each country has its own fashion regarding this, but the object is to achieve neat even sized plaits showing the silhouette of the neckline.
Smart Grooming have the complete range of plaiting equipment, including colour matching waxed plaiting thread, plaiting wax and plaiting gel to tame and smooth the mane prior to plaiting. For the final finish a spritz of Perfect Plaits plaiting spray will ensure the plaits and braids stay put all day long.
To ensure all your plaiting and braiding kit is kept in one place, our Smart Grooming Plaiting Apron has a space for all your plaiting products.
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