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33 year old Shelly Gilbert from Devon, has been a professional groom for over 10 years working for Lucy McCarthy nee Wiegersma and Irish event rider Padraig McCarthy. Shelly’s attention to detail and high standard of turnout has seen her groom at numerous national and international events ranging from BE 90 to the most prestigious 4*in the world along with grooming for the British Junior Team. Shelly is now a freelance groom and will be bringing EWW readers her top tips for meticulous turnout and care of your event horse.

If you have any questions for Shelly please email and we can include this in our next feature!

This month we look at …PLAITING 

Plaiting a mane is sometimes an art.

The number of plaits and the way they sit in the horses neck can make the most of their conformation. Plaiting is also a case of practise makes perfect. Plaits can be sewn or banded, there is no rule on how 19179446_10154753639136687_335454755_othey should be done, it is simply your preference.

For great plaits make sure the mane is of even length. Before you start to plait select all your equipment.

If using needle and thread try to do this outside the stable, so if you accidentally drop the needle it can be found easily, if tying up outside is not available then I tend to put the horses bed up in case of accidentally dropping the needle. I then am ready to plait.

I start at the poll and work down the horses neck. I dampen down the mane using a damp sponge, or use a product called quic braid, this product helps you get a good grip round the mane. I divide the mane into equal sections then plait down.

I plait down using bands, when you are the bottom of the plait I get the band and band round the plait to secure it, then using the same band, then turn up the loose ends, this way you don’t get loose ends sticking out. I then roll up using thread. Making neat balls to sit on the horses neck.

When all plaits are rolled up, I use a little bit of hairspray to control any stray, whisky broken bits. I would then put on a hood, to help keep the plaits looking great and to stop horse rubbing them out!

I tend to plait the evening before an event as the mornings are very early, again this is preference.



If you would like to contact Shelly to discuss any requirements you can reach her on 07791 561581 or email

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