DIY: How to Do Button Braids on Long Manes

How to button braid long mane

My husband really likes keeping his horses’ manes long. Although Mustangs don’t have a true breed standard, most people tend to keep their Mustangs’ manes long as well as it’s closer to their “wild” state. However, the long mane doesn’t really go with formal English horse showing. In the beginning I did running braids, but I hate how they tend to fall out, even if I french braid it.

Falling out

The other style I’ve used is the lattice braid. This looks pretty cool, but it’s not really a “braid” and not typical for English shows.

Lattice Braid

What we’ve been doing for the last few years is running button braids.

In addition to looking traditional, these braids are easy to do and they stay in. They’re easy enough that my husband now does his own braiding. He’d never braided anything in his life before doing these and he’s getting pretty good at it.

Braids by Husband

These braids look a bit too bulky for a rated hunter show, but they fit in perfectly at dressage shows and Horse Trials.

So how do you do them?

1. Start with a clean, wet, brushed mane. You may want to add Quik Braid (or another braiding product). I find it helps create neater braids and will cut down on the frizziness. Sadly, we realized we were out of Quik Braid when doing the braids in this photo shoot. If you don’t have a braiding spray on hand, keep a wet sponge nearby to re-wet the mane as you go.

How to button braid long mane

2. Divide the mane into thin sections with rubber bands. I often end up sort of re-dividing these sections as I go along by using a bit of one section and putting the rest into its neighbor. However, this step will keep all the hair you’re not working on out of your way so it’s important.

How to button braid long mane

3. Braid your first section and tie off with a rubber band. I have done this with yarn and actually found it more annoying than the rubber bands as you need such long yarn to deal with the long mane. Your braid should be about 2″ long.

How to button braid long mane

4. Poke a hole through the middle of the braid along the neck and push the extra hair into this hole.

How to button braid long mane

5. Pull the extra hair upwards until you have a neat button of braided hair. The rubber band should be inside the braid, not sticking out.

How to button braid long mane

6. You are going to bring the extra hair over from the first section and add it to your next braid. Try to keep it as flush with the neck as possible (if you leave it loose, it will bob around as it’s own bump and mess up your streamlined look). I find adding it to the middle section of your next braid to work best. Make sure to pull your first outside strand tightly over the added section to keep it flat and incorporated.

How to button braid long mane

7. Braid the second section to the same length as the first and tie off with a rubber band.

How to button braid long mane

8. Continue repeating steps 3-7 and adding additional buttons.

How to button braid long mane

9. As you go along, adding an additional rubber band around the completed button will help the button keep its shape.

How to button braid long mane

10. Especially in the middle – where the mane is very long – you may find that the remnant mane from your previous braid is so thick, you need to use a thinner section of mane for your next braid. This is easy to do. You just remove the keeper rubber band, pull off the amount of hair you need for your next section and leave the remainder to be added later.

How to button braid long mane

11. Continue repeating the steps to add additional braids as you go along. You will need to apply additional Quik Braid or water as you go as the mane dries out over time.

How to button braid long mane

12. The last braid gets tied up like a normal button braid and you’re done.

How to button braid long mane


Looking like a proper dressage pony – you’d never know he’s got a long mane


27 thoughts on “DIY: How to Do Button Braids on Long Manes

  1. Karri L

    Ah ha! The sectioning the mane before you braid must be the key! Ive watched several youtube vids on braiding long manes and mine never turn out as nice. Its a lot of work maintain, but my daughter competes in low level hunter and ranch riding classes So long mane it is!

  2. Emily

    I’m the most impressed by how clean your nails are after spending any time in the barn hahaha. Mine always look like a train wreck after the first 2 minutes. Cool tutorial!

    1. Olivia Post author

      Ha! Mine are always a mess. Those are actually my husband’s nails. I think they were clean because he’d just finished bathing Eugene.

  3. Megan K

    holy crap olivia, you’re a genius. I like kind of want to grow my horse’s mane out now because I very much love how these look!!!

  4. roamingridersite

    Those are the same braids I used for Gem’s long mane when I showed her a couple of times. They work super well though I didn’t section it all first and I think that is the key you have found.

  5. Suzy

    Nicely done. Cupid’s mane is kind of an in-between length, it works okay for big button braids but not much else!

    1. Olivia Post author

      Levi’s is in an awkward state now growing out from last year’s roaching, but not as long as Eugene’s yet. I’m not sure how to braid him.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Thanks; that’s high praise coming from you! The hunter braids are always like pencil thin though. These are so big I wouldn’t think they’d fit in.

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