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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
4. Poke a hole through the middle of the braid along the neck and push the extra hair into this hole.
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.
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.
7. Braid the second section to the same length as the first and tie off with a rubber band.
8. Continue repeating steps 3-7 and adding additional buttons.
9. As you go along, adding an additional rubber band around the completed button will help the button keep its shape.
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.
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.
12. The last braid gets tied up like a normal button braid and you’re done.
AHHHHH! This is the solution I need! Thank you thank you!
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!
Sectioning definitely helps. Practice is key too. The more often you do it, the better it gets.
This is so cool!
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!
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.
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!!!
Long manes are the best.
These show off his neck so well!
It really does help him look like he’s got a good neck.
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.
The sectioning really helps keep the extra hair from annoying you while you’re working on the braids.
gosh i wish i knew this trick when i had Isabel….
So true! I remember your posts about her mane falling out of the running braid.
Looking like a proper dressage pony, indeed. Go Eugene!
He’s the best.
I’ve seen a youtube video with this method and will definitely have to try it on Uno!
Yes! Definitely keep his mane long; it’s so pretty.
Nicely done. Cupid’s mane is kind of an in-between length, it works okay for big button braids but not much else!
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.
LOOOOVE this. He looks so fancy!
Thanks. He cleans up well for a little Mustang.
That looks really good!
Thanks. I thought maybe I’d seen you try these with Carmen?
These look gorgeous! And would definitely be suitable in the jumper ring at a hunter/jumper show.
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.
Wow- I NEVER would have guessed he had a long mane looking at those buttons! Looks fab!