Grooming Horse Care Young Rider

How to Do a Running Braid for Long Manes

A French braid, or running braid, is a braid for a dressage horse with a long mane. The braid will slip over time, so it’s best to do this type of braid immediately before your class and take it out soon after. This braid is based on an overhand braid with additional pieces of mane added as you work your way to the withers.

A running braid in a horse's mane. Learn how to do one in this article.
Photo courtesy William Shepley/Storey Publishing. from Braiding Manes and Tails by Charni Lewis

You will need:

◆ A stool
◆ Spray bottle or sponge
◆ Comb
◆ Rubber bands
◆ Hair gel (use to smooth down any ends that stick up from the crest of the mane)


1. Separate a dampened, combed mane. Take a portion of mane about 1½ inches wide. Separate the hair into three sections and start a three-strand braid. With the first turn, cross section C over section B. Cross section A over section C.

Illustration of step 1 of how to do a running braid in a horse's mane

2. Separate another small portion of mane (section D). Add it to section A.

Illustration of separating mane pieces

3. Continue braiding for one turn: Cross the right section over the middle (as shown), cross the left section over the new middle, and add hair to the middle section. Keep the braid parallel to the crest.

Illustration of crossing mane sections. This is a step of how to do a running braid in a mane.

4. Keep adding hair to the middle section at every other turn of the braid, and continue braiding until you have reached the withers. Then finish with a three-strand braid.

An illustration of a braid

5. At the end of the braid, fold the remaining hairs over and wind a rubber band tightly around the end, or finish with yarn. Then fold the braid up on itself and use a second rubber band to secure the loop, or finish in a bun.

An illustration of the final step

The Forelock

With the French braided mane, you can braid the forelock in a loop and secure the braid with rubber bands. If you choose to create a bun for the forelock, secure with yarn.

This excerpt about how to do a running braid was adapted from Braiding Manes and Tails by Charni Lewis, photography by William Shepley. This was used with permission from Storey Publishing and appeared the in the Summer 2020 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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