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Tame That Mane
 By Saferaphus   •   12th Feb 2017   •   662 views   •   0 comments


We’ve looked before at how to maximize your horse’s mane and tail growth. But, what do you do when the growth of your horse’s mane is a bit too much? Many horses have manes that lie politely to one side or another, that is only disturbed by a strong wind. Yet others have manes that are so thick and bristly, you feel like you’re looking over a hedge when you ride. Ponies, some draft and draft cross and cobby types can have very thick, unruly manes. And some have thin areas of mane part of the way up their necks, and thick clumps that stick up and frizz on the other parts.

There is no way to completely change the type of mane your horse has. Proper feeding and grooming can make the most of what it does have, but that won’t make a thin mane thick, or a thick mane completely obedient. But, with some effort, you can at least get all the hairs agreeing to which side they should all lay on, and do so in a reasonably groomed looking mannered.

Related: The Mane Event - Braiding Lesson

If you have a horse with a mane that sprouts to either side, or you feel the mane is on the wrong side there is a way to train it to lie on one side. You can decide which side it will lie against, but the ‘correct’ side is the right or off side. Perhaps the reason for this is that on the right side, the mane is out of the way as you mount your horse - one less thing to get tangled in. So, if you’re headed for the show ring, it’s best to train your horse’s mane to lie on the right side. If you’re not showing, though, it doesn’t matter, and your horse certainly doesn’t care.

How do you get that mane to lie reasonable flat? First, get all the burrs, snarls and snags out of your horse’s mane with a soft brush or comb. Separate the strands carefully so you don’t snap them. You can use a grooming spray to get the hair nice and sleek. If you were braiding for a show, you wouldn’t want to use grooming spray. It makes the hair too slippery, making the braids hard to bundle and keep in place.

After detangling, wet the mane slightly. Then comb it over to the side you want it on. Avoid comb-over jokes. Then, start braiding down the mane a section at a time. You don’t have to be fussy about the width of the braid, or how far down you plait them. All you want to do is make the mane heavy enough that it holds itself down on the side of the neck. Continue with individual braids all the way up the neck to the bridle path. Use braiding elastics to hold each braid from unraveling.

Now leave these braids in place for a few days. Every so often, remove the braids and repeat the process. Some manes will get the message in about a week. Others are more stubborn and will need to stay braided for several weeks before they will be retrained. You could use a curtain braid or French braid down the horse’s neck. But individual braids will let your horse use its mane naturally to flick away insects. Banding, dividing the hair in bunches, doesn’t provide enough weight to hold the mane in place.

This is probably the only time you should leave braids in your horse’s hair. Leaving show braids in over a long time will be uncomfortable for the horse, and will cause lots of breakage, which will mean it will be harder to make neat for the next show. Even plain braids will frizz after a time. As soon as you’ve retrained the mane, take the braids out for good. Really stubborn manes may need to be retrained from time to time. But with patience, all but the thickest, wiry manes can be made to lie flat, and in place.
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