Plaiting Tips from Loraine Homer
Plaiting for Perfection? Here one of the most prolific names on the UK showing circuit Loraine Homer, professional show rider, producer and judge, gives Everything Horse UK readers her top tips for plaiting perfection, courtesy of her sponsor Aloeride, the naturally organic aloe vera supplement for outstanding coat shine and all round wellbeing.
- I do wash my horse’s mane the day before, this can make it more difficult to plait, but I like it spotlessly clean so I wash it, make sure you really work to get rid of any residue of shampoo and for obvious reasons, don’t use conditioner or coat shine!
- To get the best plaits, make sure that your horses’ mane is of average length and thickness. We tend to pull manes after exercise, when they are warm and less fresh as the pores will be more open and the hair is easier to remove.
- I wouldn’t recommend pulling your horse’s mane the day before as the likelihood is that he won’t let you come anywhere near it on show day! Pull little and often to help maintain it, as oppose to a full on mane pulling session, which your horse won’t appreciate!
- Before you start plaiting, decide what kind of plaits and positioning they need. Is your horse’s neck a bit on the weak and needing more top line? Then try positioning the plaits so that they sit on top of the neck rather then flat to the neck to give the illusion of more top line. If your horse has a big neck, you would do the opposite and lay the plaits to sit into the neck, below the top line. Playing around with the number of plaits can make a huge difference to the overall look of your horses neck eg: adding a few extra plaits can often help a horse that is ‘short in neck’ but always experiment at home first.
Adding a few extra plaits can often help a horse that is ‘short in neck’ but always experiment at home first
- Firstly comb or brush through your horse’s mane thoroughly and then dampen with a body brush or sponge. You don’t want the hair soaking wet, but by making it damp, it will help the hair lay correctly and be easier to keep those wispy hairs under control! The correct number of plaits really depends on what suits your horse but traditionally the number is always odd on the neck, with the forelock being the last and making the total even. Some people find that dividing up the mane up into bunches with elastic bands before plaiting helps them plan how many they need to do and also helps keep the hair neat and tidy whilst you concentrate on each plait at a time.
- Always start at the top of his mane and work your way down and either secure the ends with elastic bands or for a more professional look, use thread. Each person has their own style but we plait, we secure the end of the plait, then double the plait back under itself and push the needle from underneath through the top of the plait and down the middle of the plait to the bottom. Then, push the needle back into very top of the plait and gently pull the needle through. The plait will start to curl up as you pull, so you can guide and mould the plait in-between your finger and thumb into the perfect position. Once it’s correct, then sew it into place, being careful to hide the tread and sew neatly.
- Finish with some hair spray to set the plaits and make sure you take your plaiting kit with you to the show, just in case your horse manages to rub any out on the way there.
Good luck with your shows this season!
Loraine Homer is sponsored by www.aloeride.com