How to Do Hunter Braids on a Horse’s Mane

Updated May 24, 2023
show horses mane in hunter braids

For show day, you want to look your best. Great horse hunter braids can add polish to a winning hunter round, while messy, loose braids can distract from an otherwise great ride. Braiding is hard, especially for beginners!  

Braiding Supplies You Will Need

  • Pulling comb or clips
  • Braiding hook
  • Scissors
  • Braiding thread

Video on How to Do Hunter Braids

In this video, Heather from McQuay Stables shares her secrets on how to do hunter braids and keep them sharp so you can wow the judges! 

Step-by-Step How to Do Hunter Braids

Preparation is key with any type of braiding. Wash your horse’s hair and allow it to dry slightly. Wet hair makes it easier to hold and will extend the life of the braids. Comb hair flat, and then you are ready to begin.

hunter braids in horse's mane
  • Measure the width of the desired braid.
  • Use a clip to pin back the rest of the mane.
  • Divide the hair into three pieces and begin to braid.
  • Count eight strands of the braid, then lay the piece of yarn into the braid and continue braiding down for another eight strands. Placing the yarn at the same place in your braids will help to keep them even.
  • Tie a knot at the end of the braid and pull down so it’s tight. Make a double knot so the yarn and hair are secure.
  • At the top of the braid along the crest of the mane, stick your pull-through down through the middle of the braid. Pull the yarn upwards through the middle of the mane so it comes out the top of the hunter braid.
  • Your braid should look like a bun.
  • Wrap the yarn around the bun’s base and double-knot it at the top.
  • Pull it tight, double-knot it again, and wrap it around the bottom again to secure it. 
  • To finish, tie two single knots to keep the braid tight. Snip off the excess yarn with scissors.

How Long Can Horse Hunter Braids Stay In?

You can leave hunter braids in overnight if your horse doesn't rub. Most people take them out the same day and rebraid on show days. If you leave horse hunter braids in for too long, it's tough on the manes because if you braid them tight, horses tend to rub them. Most horses find hunter braids uncomfortable, especially if shampoo residue is present over long periods. When removing the braids, be careful not to rip the mane out. Be patient and take your time.

Click here to watch our video on how to do dressage braids.

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.