How to Band a Mane

Whether you're showing in a western class or you just want to add a bit of sophistication to your horse's appearance, banding is an easy mane style to accomplish. Banding your horse's mane requires more time than skill, making it a great style for beginners.


  1. Image titled Band a Mane Step 1
    Pick up the necessary supplies. To start, you’ll need a selection of 50-100 elastic bands in a color that compliments your horse’s mane; you can choose to use a matching hair color, white bands for a black mane, or black bands for a white mane. You will also need a pulling brush for thinning the mane, a banding comb, a hair clip or two, and some sort of product to get the mane sticky.[1]
    • Quick Braid is a great product, but cheap hair gel will work in a pinch.
    • You may also need a step stool depending on the height of your horse, or your own height.
    • Organize your tools in an easy to reach place.
  2. Image titled Band a Mane Step 2
    Do a preliminary trim. If you’ve never banded your horse’s hair before or it has grown out quite a bit since your last attempt, it will be easiest to cut off most of the mane before you start the process. Use your scissors to cut the mane to be about six inches long - it doesn’t have to be perfect or even. You’ll do a second trim when you finish banding to remove any remaining length and to even it out.
  3. Image titled Band a Mane Step 3
    Prepare the mane for banding. Brush through the mane with your comb to remove any tangles or knots. You can dampen it with a bit of water to make this easier. If your horse’s mane is very thick, using a pulling brush to thin it out at this point. Apply your Quick Braid or gel until the hair feels workable, but not too sticky. Comb the product through the mane so it is applied evenly.
    • You don’t have to thin your horse’s mane unless it is particularly thick.
  4. Image titled Band a Mane Step 4
    Section out your first band. Start at the end of the bridle path, and part out your first section of mane. Using your banding comb, for a pro mane, use only a section as large as a tooth of the comb. For a quicker mane, make it the width of two teeth. Use your hair clip to hold the remaining hair out of your way.
  5. Image titled Band a Mane Step 5
    Band the first piece of hair. Take a single band and wrap it neatly about the selected section 3-4 times or until the band is snug. The band should be level with the edge of the horse's crest so that the bands will echo the shape of the crest as you work along the mane.
  6. Image titled Band a Mane Step 6
    Secure the band and lay the hairs flat. Reach under the band and take a small section of hairs and part it in two. Using both hands, take one piece in each and pull the pieces gently - slightly downward and to each side. It should look like you are making an upside down "V" under the band. Pull gently on these pieces upward along the neck, toward the crest, until the band pulls snug against the horse's neck.[2]
  7. Image titled Band a Mane Step 7
    Create a second band. Move onto a second section of hair, following all of the aforementioned steps for dividing, banding, and securing the band. Try to line up the band so that it is even with the first one, giving the most clean and sleek appearance.
  8. Image titled Band a Mane Step 8
    Finish banding. Work down the neck following the pattern of banding you’ve created with the first two. Make sure that all of the sections of hair are of an even thickness, and that all the bands line up together. You may need to re-wet the mane regularly as you work.
  9. Image titled Band a Mane Step 9
    Do a finishing trim of the mane. Depending on personal preference and the class you are performing in, you may have a specific mane length in mind. Typically though, the mane is cut to be 2–4 inches (5.1–10.2 cm) long total. Start at the first band near the bridle path, and cut the man off in a clean line with the scissors. Work down the mane cutting each individual band, making sure that they are all even lengths.[3]
  10. Image titled Band a Mane Step 10
    Band your horse's forelock. Wet it down as you did the mane and apply product. Use the banding comb to help you separate the forelock into three sections. Braid the forelock down about an inch and then band it up right where the hair from the bottom of the forelock grows. Tighten down the band just as you did the mane.
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    Finish up the mane. Spray or sponge on some Show Sheen (or a similar product) when you are finished to add gloss and shine to your completed mane and forelock. Be careful not to apply it too thickly though, as this may counteract your attempts to appear sophisticated and leave it looking greasy.[4]


  • The trick to a good banding job is quality AND quantity of the bands. You want small, well-defined bands that number as many as 40-60 bands for the length of the mane. If you are going to a smaller show, you can easily bring that amount down towards 25-30 if you choose.
  • Make sure to band the day of the show so the bands look fresh and don't get rubbed out. You can use a Sleazy Sleepwear hood or a similar Lycra hood to keep the mane and forelock laying flat before the show.
  • To learn more about technique and trends, go to shows regularly as an observer. Make sure to visit some breed-level shows to see what everyone is putting out in the show ring. Ask questions when it is convenient to the trainers, owners, and grooms and see what they prefer on their horses as far as banding goes.
  • Practice makes perfect - band your horse's mane a lot at home before you go to a show. A good groom can band a mane in 20-30 minutes after lots of practice!
  • When you are finished showing, make sure to remove your bands. A seam ripper works just great to quickly remove them. Use the ripper pointing downward (in the same direction as the hair growth) to cut the bands and leave the hair intact. Make sure to pull the ripper slightly away from the hair once you have caught the band to avoid cutting the hairs too!


  • If you use a bucket or stool make sure it is big enough not to tip over and make sure your horse is ok with you standing on it next to him. Many horses are scared of someone standing above them at first.
  • Make sure your horse is OK with spray bottles before you go spraying anywhere near his ears or face.

Things You'll Need

  • Small comb
  • Step stool or overturned bucket
  • Bands (see "Tips" for suggestions on color)
  • Banding comb (also sold as a braiding comb, two finger holes and three sections for hair is what you will need)
  • Water, either in a spray bottle or in a bucket
  • Sponge or rag (if your water is in a bucket)
  • Quick braid or hair gel
  • Hair Clips (any medium or small clip can work)
  • Hairspray
  • Seam Ripper
  • Show Sheen
  • Grooming apron or tool belt (Optional)
  • Sleazy Sleepwear hood or any zippered lycra hood (Optional)

Article Info

Categories: Horse Grooming