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Seriously, I need help and YouTube videos don't seem to be helping.

Last time I was getting ready for my horse show I arrived 3 hours early to plait my horse's mane - I knew it was going to take some time. I spent a few days before hand pulling the hairs so they would be sufficiently short enough.

Her mane is thinner near her withers so those plaits went in quite nicely. As we moved up though, the mane gets a bit thicker so my braids ended up being bigger and they wouldn't stay in. I am thinking I needed to make those plaits smaller to compensate for that. Not to mention the end result looked so horrible that I just showed her without the plaits (it was just a schooling show anyway).

Can any English/Hunter Jumper riders give me a rough estimate of how many plaits/braids are SUPPOSED to be on a horse once finished? I think that would help me plan ahead and separate the braids appropriately before turning them into plaits. I know each horse is different but a general estimate would be nice!

Her mane is not TERRIBLY short, and it a little uneven, but it's much shorter than it was. I do not want to cut/pull it any more because she is an Arabian and I want to preserve as much of her mane as possible.

Please, plaiting Godesss/Gods of HorseForum.com, save me.

:pinkunicorn:
 

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What I would do is pull the mane so it's even and uniformly thin.

Wet the mane. Keep a spray bottle handy to re-wet as you go.

Choose the center of the neck and part the mane there. Choose the width of your plait and put in an elastic, making a little bitty ponytail.

Choose the center of that (from withers to your first part, and from your first part to the poll) and repeat.

Keep "halving" your sections and in the end you'll have a nice row of banded sections, evenly up the neck, ready to be plaited.

Start with one band, take the elastic off and comb through, wet down. For stubborn hairs I use gel on it. Braid. Replace the elastic (if you use elastics). I use the same color heavy thread as the mane and firmly tie down the end of the hair, leaving a long tail of thread.

Continue with each banded section until you have a row of braids down the horse's neck.

Now you use the long tail of the thread and a big, blunt tapestry needle to bring the end up and under, pushing the needle through the center of the hair as close to the neck as possible, then wrap around the entire braid if you want to make buttons. Knot and clip excess thread.

Continue until you have all the braids made into plaits. Hairspray any little stubborn hairs into place.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That was incredibly insightful. Thank you for posting. I feel like it is going to make my plaiting job much easier next weekend!
 

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How did the plaiting go? Do you have any pictures?
It didn't go well. I did trim about 1/2 an inch off my mare's mane to make it even but didn't pull it this time. It was 32 degrees when I was prepping her for the show and I stood out there attempting to plait her mane for several hours before I gave up from the massive sunburn I received and the dehydration. I recently moved to a new barn where the indoor arena is currently still in the process of being built so I had no cool areas to prep her.

Her mane was still too thick near the top, so despite the fact that I used your wonderful method the plaits would not stay in using bands. When I would roll them then band them, eventually they would just pop out. When that started happening I just took the braids out and kinda gave up. I was using the banding method instead of the needle and thread.

I probably won't attempt plaiting again until next year now, or maybe for one last show in September as long as the weather cools or the indoor area is built.

:sad: On the other hand, at least her mane is even now!
 

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UK plaits aren't the same as US braids - so which ones do Canadian show horses have?
 

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I do it with elastics a little differently. They don't look quite as tight or sharp as with thread, but they do the job, and you can't really tell from more than a few feet away.
I start at the top right next to the bridle path. I have a braiding comb that I use for my size marker. I section off the part I want to be one braid, and then tie the area next to it back with an elastic just to keep it out of the way. Then I braid the section. The first 4 or 5 crosses over MUST be SUPER tight, basically as tight as you can pull it. From there braid as tight as you can until about 3/4 an inch from the bottom. Band it with an elastic good and tight. Work your way down the neck doing it all the same way and same width. The middle will likely be thicker braids if you haven't pulled. Not a big deal, it looks better if the braids are even width even if they are different sizes. Thick braids in the middle just kinda make your horse look more cresty anyways. When you're done braiding its time to roll. It's more folding than rolling. I bend the braid down (towards the underside) just above the elastic. Then bend it over on itself again so you end up with a "bun" about 1.5-2 inches long. Try to position it pointing down. Then take another elastic and and wrap it tight around all 3 "layers" of the braid. It takes some practice, and they don't stay super well (don't plan on keeping them in for a multi day show), but they're quick and easy and easy to fix from on the horses back between classes if they come out.
 

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Personally, with this specific horse because she is part arabian, I would let her mane grow out and then do a running braid. I have a half bred arabian, and even though I had the temptation to make him look "uniform" with all of the other horses in the show ring, it is easier and looks much better to do a really good running braid rather than struggle with plaits. That's just what direction I would lean in instead :wink: Then again, I love my arabians with long manes :loveshower:
 

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I can plait a horse, mane and tail in about 15-20 minutes!

First off the mane on your horse looks to long and thick and needs pulling.

I use a dog comb with a handle, about 4" in length, experience has enabled me to never bother to divide the mane, I just judge as I go.

Braiding/plaiting can improve a horse's top line a great deal. One thing I never do is to make the first few braids of the plait tight. The first is quite loose and then tightened as I go down. This doesn't give cause for the horse to dislike their hair being pulled tight, something I hated as a small child!

I am going to try and get a series of pictures to explain more easily.
 

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US braids for showing classes - the look is slightly different to the UK and I think also the Canadian and Australian plaits


 

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My suggestion is to practice more. Even if you know all the steps and process of plaiting, it is a tough skill that most people don't get on their first try (or 10). This fall and winter when the heat isn't bugging you and the bugs are gone, plait once a week. Soon you will get better at it and you can work out a method that works well for you!
 

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Thanks everyone, I do agree that I need to practice much more. It just seems like such a chore and I hardly want to spend hours trying to plait instead of riding while I am out with my horse... But that's just my laziness coming out, hahaha!

I think this winter will be full of plaiting practice.
 
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