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Custom Made To Order


As well as our leather goods, Ellen also makes Heavy Horse Decorations and has been doing so since 2014. What are heavy horse decorations? The decorative coloured pieces used on draught horses in harness and at shows in their manes and tails.

E.L.Freeman Heavy Horse Decorations makes decorations to suit all breeds of heavy horse in any colour combination.

We have many different styles and designs available and are also able to make custom designs to suit your needs. Handmade quality decorations at reasonable prices with quality, finish and longevity in mind. Unlike other decorations, we heat seal all pieces to assist with wear and to keep sets looking good.

Our wide product range includes:

  • Standards & Flights

  • Individual Tail Sprigs & False Tail Sprig Sets

  • Mane Rolls and Mane Plaits available in wool or fabric

  • Tail Fans & Bows and Tail Rings

  • Neck Bands

  • Decoration Sets for Clydesdales, Shires, Percherons and all other breeds

  • Individual pieces

  • Ribbon Lengths

  • Raffia for plaiting

  • Custom Made Pieces

  • Plaiting Aprons

  • Lapel Pins and Hair Bows


Based near Wauchope N.S.W, Australia and able to ship worldwide, we have a large range of colour options available and can cater for those requiring anything from traditional styled decorations through to modern, colourful and unique styles. We can create pieces and sets suitable for showing and working your horse and can also make heavy horse decorations to suit weddings, special events and more.

If you are new to the heavy horse world or uncertain of what you require to show your heavy horse, we can help.


We are always happy to answer questions and provide suggestions on what can be appropriate to the breed, age and type of horse & the event itself. We have assisted many newcombers in the past and am more than happy to help. We can advise decorations that would suit and send images of colour combinations or make suggestions. Please have a look at our "Showing Your Horse' page for further information, or get in contact with us on our 'Contact Us' page.

I have been making decorations since 2014 assisting many happy customers with their beautiful horses throughout the world. We have some customers still using the original sets purchased from us in the early years to give an idea of how well our sets can last when treated well.

Showing Your Horse and what's what

Decorating heavy horses varies depending on the breed of heavy horse you are showing, the age and gender of the horse, and the type of show you are attending - be it a local agricultural show, heavy horse specific event or a royal show.


Most small local agricultural shows won't require the horse to be decorated, but simply presented in good, well groomed condition. In saying that, it is fun to present your heavy horse with decorations. A large, royal or breed specific show can expect the correct presentation and decorations for that breed of heavy horse and for the gender and age of the horse. If you are uncertain of what will be required, check the showing specifications for the breed or show you intend to go to with the relevant society, stud book or perhaps the breeder. It also pays to ask other heavy horse people how they show their horse or to take note at other shows with heavy horses to gain an idea of what you may prefer.


When I first began showing heavy horses, information on how to present and decorate your horse was hard to find. A lot of the information found was for showing in the UK or USA and not much was available on the 'how to' plait a heavy horse or otherwise. Being in a rural area with no other heavies being shown in the area at the time, I just had to have a go. The first attempt was a reasonable success but certainly wasn't superb! The flights didn't stay in that day, but there has been significant improvement since then! Lots of practice - something I recommend to everyone - certainly helps!

Now, by no means do I claim to be an expert on the decorating heavies, but I have put together a short guide below for those new to the show ring or looking for a bit of guidance as to what could be used or suitable for general heavy horse events and those starting out. The below is what we usually recommend to customers but if you are unsure feel free to get in touch and we can help you.


The information provided here is intended only as a guide and I have included the main breeds shown here in Australia and what is currently commonly used for these horses. Remember that it can pay to check the rules for the show you are attending if they have specific requirements for showing.


Decoration Pieces - what each item is

Below is a description of what each decoration piece is used for.

Mane Rolls and Mane Plaits - Mane rolls have 2 strands and are plaited into the mane by a method of crossing the strands across the mane each time and locking in place with the mane hair using a crossing pattern. Used on Clydesdales, Percherons, Australian Draughts, Gypsy/Drum horses and most other breeds except Shires.

Mane plaits have 3 strands and are plaited into the mane again using a sequence with the mane hair and the strands. Used on Shire horses.

Flights or Standards - is the term given to the flag or flower like pieces that run along the top of the horses neck and are placed into the mane once a mane roll is put in or while the mane plait is being put in. Traditionally used on stallions or harness horses only (depending on the breed), they are often seen on mares and geldings also. Shire horses are usually all shown with flights - mares, stallions and geldings. Flights is the term given to the 'flags' used on Shires, while Standards are the term for most other breeds. A well plaited neck with flights/standards helps accentuate the neck.

Neck Band - a colourful band going around the horses chest and tied at the base of the neck/wither where the mane roll/plait would finish and sits across the front of the chest. They are always used on Shires and are popular on other breeds especially when a number plate is to be used.

Tail Sprigs - the 'flag' pieces used in the tail - always a pair. Made like standards or flights, these should be plaited into the top of the tail with raffia, however false tail sprigs are also available which are quick to place into the tail and ideal used with a tail fan to hide the apparatus used.

Tail Fans - A circular fan shaped piece that sits around the bun at the top of the tail or partway down. Available in a single version that can be tied in or double version that is 2 fans with elastic loop in the center. Double Tail fans are ideal used on their own without tail sprigs or used on a bun part way down the tail.

Pre-made Tail Bows - as the name implies, these are a traditional type bow with 'tails' that can quickly be placed in the tail around the bun and doesn't need to be tied each time. Elastic loop on the back to slip over the tail bun.

Tail Ring - a ring or circle shaped piece that goes into the tail bun on Shire horses. Also called a jug handle.

Ribbons - a cheap and effective way to finish the overall look of the decorations and also to secure everything in place at times, especially in the tail around the bun. They can be placed in the forelock or the end of the mane, used as a decoration on their own or to add that extra touch.

Lapel Pins and Hair Bows - as the name imples - these are for the person showing the horse! Made to match decorations or even an outfit, Lapel Pins go on the handlers jacket or shirt, while hair bows for the ladies can be placed in the hair to match the horse or complete your outfit. Both are ready made and easy to place as required.


Showing Clydesdales

A young Clydesdale will often be shown with or without a two strand mane roll, ribbons and with decorations of some form in the tail. This is often in the form of a tail fan, sprigs and ribbons; a pre-made tail bow or ribbons and sprigs. Very young horses such as foals and weanlings do not need a mane roll.

Clydesdales 2 years and over - are generally shown with a two strand mane roll, tail decorations being a tail fan, sprigs & ribbons; tail bow and sprigs or similar. Standards in the mane for in-hand showing are generally at least seven and five for in harness depending on the style. Neck bands can also be used. 

Standards traditionally were generally only used on stallions or in harness but nowadays they are seen used on mares, geldings and stallions depending on the show being attended.

Showing Shires

Young Shire horses are usually shown with a neck band, tail sprigs, tail ring, ribbons or a tail bow. Yearlings may also be shown with the same pieces as well as a mane plait which is traditionally three strand for shire horses and the addition of flights. Usually a suitable number for the length of the neck may be 9-13.

Adult Shires are shown with a mane plait - traditionally three strand, flights - 11-15 depending on the horse, neck band, individual tail sprigs, tail ring, ribbons and a tail bow if desired. The number of flights used varies, but the above are often a good amount (depending on the style) but more or less may be used too.

Showing Percherons

Percherons are generally shown with 2 strand mane roll, flights/standards, tail fan and ribbons. Tail Sprigs can also be used. This can vary depending on the exhibitors choice of decorations and the age of the horse. Generally 5 or 7 standards is fine with either a single or double tail fan used and at times a pre-made tail bow as well.

Showing other breeds

Suffolk, Belgium Draft, Australian Draught, Drums & Gypsy Cobs - though these breeds do have specific traditional ways for presentation, generally the pieces used with Clydesdales or Percherons are suitable. Although these breeds are not as commonly seen in the ring, they are certainly still around and gaining popularity with more horses being shown, which is wonderful to see! If you have one of these breeds and need some help to choose what you need, please get in touch.

Be it a mane roll & tail fan right through to a full set of decorations with standards or flights and lots of dazzle. If you feel like going the whole hog at a show and can then why not! People love to see heavy horses with all their decorations and it definitely catches peoples attention!

The most important advice is to practice your plaiting as no one becomes an expert overnight, keep trying and most of all, have fun!

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