How to plait a mane - blog by an international eventing groom Emma Stewart
I am Emma and I have just joined the Eqclusive team of bloggers. I'm a professional groom to Felix Vogg and on daily basis she takes care of 4-10 horses. Felix Vogg is on his way to qualify for Olympics, so we have been busy travelling Europe.
I hope that each month I can give you a little insight into being an international eventing groom. This will include Turnout tips, behind the scenes at competitions or training and day to day tasks . If anyone has any suggestions or something they would really like to learn - don't hesitate to suggest it . I hope some of you will find this interesting or useful.
For my first blog I chose to do how to plait a mane. There are many ways in which you can plait , stitching , bands , dressage plaits , trellis plait , running plait ..the list goes on. Here I am going to plait as I usually would for competition.
I have never seen these plaits on showing horses but I see no reason why they cannot be done.
Firstly most people say horses should always have the mane plaited to the right hand side.. This is not something I ever take notice of. There is no rule and no one is going to deduct some points from you or lower your scores just because of the plaits! I think it is easier to plait on which ever side the mane lies.. So long as it all on one side left or right should not matter.
What you will need:
- One small plaiting comb
- One wet sponge( you can also use hair gel- keeps stray hairs tidy)
- Plaiting bands ( I prefer the thick flat elastic ones as opposed to the usual thin rubber ones, you will achieve much tighter neater plaits with these ones)
- One hair clip
- Something to stand on
- Hair spray
Starting at the top of the mane using the comb make a section of hair the size you would like the plait to be. Use a band to keep it in a bunch, continue this down the mane until it is all in equal sized sections
Once this is finished use the hair clip to hold the bunches closest to the first section away, this way you ensure the other hairs don't get in the way. Then use the wet sponge to make the section of hair damp (not to wet or it is harder to hold onto) . Once wet comb it once and then plait it down securing with a band at the end. Keep doing this at every section until the whole mane is plaited down.
Starting again with the top plait you must take it and fold the bottom of the plait where the band Is just underneath so you can no longer see it under the braid. Then take a band and put it on top of the end of the plait pulling it down and then back up again meaning it is secure.. Keep hold of the band over the top of your right hand whilst still holding the end.
Then you must start rolling the braid under itself using the right hand where the band is over . Use your left hand to pinch the roll and keep it straight and tight. Once it is fully rolled to the neck then pull the band down over it twist and back up. Do this two or three times until you cannot fit the band again and then let it go - now it should be tight.
To achieve the round look of the plaits you must make sure the band is going totally underneath the hair and not resting on it like a bob when you are pulling the band under each time.
It sounds really complicated but if you watch the video I enclose you will see it is in fact very easy!
Continue this method again all the way down the plaits until all of them are rolled and secured. This should leave you with very smart, neat and straight round plaits.
It will not look perfect the first time! But once you find your own way that works with holding the band and rolling together it will become really very easy very fast.
Once you are happy with them I suggest putting on some hairspray , it helps stick down any loose hairs and also gives a nice shine - do be careful though, not all horses are calm for that especially at the top of the neck.then you are finished.
I hope that you can all have very smart horses now and it would be great to see photos of your attempts - maybe I can help some individual tips then if there is a problem
There is a selection of photos at the bottom of horses I have plaited the previous season!
Happy plaiting and till next time