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Home > Horses > 6 Beautiful Horse Mane Styles You Can Do Yourself (With Pictures)

6 Beautiful Horse Mane Styles You Can Do Yourself (With Pictures)

braided dutch draft horse

The mane is the section of a horse’s hair that grows from the top of the neck to the withers. The mane is made up of thicker, coarser hair than the rest of the horse’s coat and is meant to keep the horse’s neck warm while potentially aiding in water runoff.

The mane can also offer some fly protection, along with the tail. Left to its own devices, though, a mane can become tangled and knotted, and it may even become badly damaged. For this reason, many riders of different disciplines choose to braid or otherwise style their horses’ manes. Doing so can help keep the mane out of the horse’s eyes, though some people choose to plait and braid their horses specifically for certain events, like dressage.

Whether you’re braiding for fun or competition, protecting your horse’s coat, or experimenting with new looks for your horse, here are six mane styles that you can undertake and complete yourself. Some are more challenging than others, but they are all achievable with a bit of practice.

horse shoe divider

The 6 Horse Mane Styles You Can Try

1. Hunter Braids by Savvy Horsewoman

Hunter Braids by savvy horse woman
Image Credit: Savvy Horsewoman

Hunter braids were traditionally used by hunters. Braiding the hair would have prevented it from getting tangled while out hunting in trees and undergrowth. The braid was functional, but the modern equivalent has evolved a little.

Also called flat braids, the hunter braid uses yarn, and it is common to choose a color that closely matches that of your horse’s hair. You will usually end up with more than 30 individual braids down the horse’s neck. The finished design is elegant and shows off your horse’s neckline.

It also provides a functional means of keeping hair away from your horse’s neck if you need to get to the skin underneath.

2. Button Braids by DIY Horse Ownership

Button Braids by diy horse ownership
Image Credit: DIY Horse Ownership

Button braids, which are also referred to as rosette braids, are popular in dressage. They are durable braids that require the use of a needle and thread. They do take practice to get just right, and if you are not competing, you can use rubber bands instead of a needle.

It is common practice to have an odd number of braids, and you will usually end up with between 9 and 17 braids in total. They give your horse a clean and neat finish, as long as they are done right. If the braid does not go well, it may look worse than having no braid at all!

3. Running Braid by Horse Nation

The running braid is a typical French braid that runs the entire length of the neck. It is popular with horses that have a long mane and is commonly used in shows for long-maned horses because other styles like the button braid tend to work better and are easier to manage.

The similarity between this and a French braid means if you can plait hair, you should be able to create a good-looking running braid for your horse. For the best-looking running braid, however, you will be braiding under rather than over.

Many owners apply a bit of hairspray to the braid to hold it in place to further improve the look for an event.

4. Continental Braid by the Los Angeles Equestrian Center

The continental braid, or diamond lattice, is not really a type of braid, but it is a staggering look for any horse. It requires a long mane, and once finished, it will look like a doyley or macrame-style design. You need to section the hair, band the mane into equal sections, and then divide those sections into two.

Each section should be connected to the neighboring section, with the result looking like intricate netting. Once you’ve got the hang of this style of braiding, it is surprisingly easy to do; it just takes time. If you don’t section the hair equally, it can look uneven and appear too thick in some parts.

5. Mane Pulling by Equine Helper

While you can cut some horses’ manes, pulling is often considered a better option because it not only shortens the length of the hair but also thins the mane so it is easier to manage and care for.

Pulling is a long and tedious task, though some people do report finding it quite cathartic and a good bonding experience with a horse. It involves taking small sections of hair starting at the withers and making your way up to the neck. Hold the hair at the length that you want the hair to be, brush up above this level using a mane-pulling comb, wrap any remaining hair around the comb, and pull. The hair will break at the level of the pulling comb, so it is important to ensure that the comb sits at the right level.

It is also important to make sure you only work on small amounts of hair at a time; otherwise, it can hurt your horse and will not give the desired results.

6. Roaching by Sami Jo Sovis

If you don’t enjoy braiding your horse’s mane or you need to control insects or apply medication, a roached or hogged mane may be a better option than braiding.

Roaching a mane means shaving it all off. This will leave your horse’s neck exposed, which is one of the primary reasons that few owners take this approach, but it does require minimal effort to maintain it.

It will take around 12 months for your horse’s mane to grow back, so be sure you’re ready to do it before you start shaving. Once done, the only maintenance required is just a quick shave as the mane grows back.



A horse’s mane serves several purposes in the wild. It is used to keep the neck warm, guard from rain, and potentially protect against foliage and insects. Domesticated horses may have less use for the mane, but it is a major contributing factor to a horse’s good looks. In some eventing, a horse and handler will be judged on the quality, care, and decoration of the mane.

We included here six of the most common ways to style a horse’s mane that you can do yourself. Hopefully, you will find a style that befits your horse and best suits your needs.

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Featured Image Credit: navatu, Shutterstock

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