Gypsy Plaits - Will My Horse be Stolen?

So a post came up on my Facebook news feed about a girl had gone out to the field and found "gypsy knots" or "gypsy plaits" in her horses tail. She uploaded a photo of the plaits followed by the paragraph warning others to be aware and check their horses as this was a sign that the gypsies were 'marking' her horse so they could steal it at a later date.

This is all an urban myth!

Chances are those dread-lock type plaits were caused by the wind. They are commonly known as "wind plaits" and "witches knots" in other areas of the world. They are most often seen in horses with long manes and those that haven't been brushed or pulled in a while.

I mean, thinking about it logically, why would you plait a horse to mark it? Why not just take a picture of the horse using a camera phone. It takes less time, is less intrusive and you don't have to go rooting for a plait to confirm identification at a later date.

Why spend the time plaiting a horse when you could just steal it? You also risk being seen and potentially being bitten or kicked. And you'd also want a fairly quiet horse to stand while you do it, I know mine would get bored and walk away

How would these thieves mark horses with hogged or short, pulled manes? Or what would they do if the owner came and bruised out the plaits? It just makes no sense to me to use plaits as a method of identification and it leaves the owner on high alert.

It's worth checking out the images labelled "horses wind plaits", even just to reassure yourself and others. It's great that people are trying to spread information and make people aware but there is a lot of scaremongering associated with the sharing of those photos. Hopefully, this puts an end to that myth, we have enough to worry about without thinking our horses are being marked to be stolen!


  1. By far the most sensible comment I've seen on this subject! Looks like the other sites have just repeated an urban myth without questioning it.

  2. Oh there you go, the police have now confirmed there's no evidence for it.

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  4. I have only just come across this post.
    I am a gypsy. I find it disgusting that people think gypsies are targeting horses by plaiting them.

    Long mained horses get WIND knots. Not GYPSY knots. Its natural.

    Yes there are good an bad in all walks of life but I am sick of the gypsy being tarred in a bad light.

    1. Thank you for that comment. My family is of gypsy descent also. Does the name Lydia Sisco sound familiar?

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