Mane taming tips
This is perhaps every rider’s pet peeve about manes – they lay to both sides and are wacky crazy flopping around. Generally, a thinner mane is easier to tame than a thick one. Pulling the mane thins the mane and will shorten the mane as well, but many horses find this offensive. It’s an absolute MYTH that horses don’t have nerves in their manes. They do. You can still find ways to tame a long, thick mane.
A condition I am familiar with. One horse, two manes.
How train the mane to one side
- One easy way is to use a damp towel as a “hat” while you groom the rest of your horse. Moisten, and just lay over the mane. Some horses will shake off the towel so this may not be worth it.
- You can also take your stiff, short-bristled nylon brush and dunk it in water. Use this to brush the mane down. Have your horse wear some “horse underwear” as the damp or wet mane dries.
- The surefire way to tame a mane is to put in some braids if the mane is thin. I use bigger braids for thicker manes because it’s a bit easier. Typically, thin manes will have lots of tiny braids, and thicker manes have wider, and fewer, braids.
A damp towel as a hat. Use while your horse is in the crossties.
You don’t have to braid all the way down.
- If you leave your horse’s mane as thick as possible, use big fat mane-taming braids. I also suggest leaving the mane as long as possible in this situation. The weight of the hair will help the mane rest on one side.
- Leave them in as long as possible – you may need to redo them daily. Some horses need them in for weeks at a time. Be patient and diligent and work at it every day. You may also find that wider looser braids do the trick for your particular horse. I personally like the little ones, but your horse may object.
Thick mane braids!
You can also loop the training braid back onto itself to help everything stay down.
- After you have finished your braid, create a small hole at the top of the braid where your horse’s mane meets his neck.
- Take the training braid and fold it towards you.
- Loop the braid through the opening from the top down. This helps keep everything a bit more snug.
Other ideas for training your horse’s mane to rest on one side of his neck
- Sometimes you must play around to see what works best to train the mane to one side. You may have to do a combo of lots of little things – wet the mane, braid it, and use a neck cover.
- Bust out the product! Mane Mousse is a great mane-taming tool that creates hold without stickiness. It’s great for use with the training braids and show day to tame flyaways.
- A note about what side of the neck braids should lay on. No written USEF rule says hunters must be braided on the right. But, the tradition in the hunters is strong, there’s no way I would send a hunter into the ring with braids on the left. Other disciplines sport braids to both sides, using the horse’s natural mane lay as the guide.
- When you are taming a mane, think marathon, not sprint. Every bit counts – and work on it every day. Also, consider that you may need to pull the mane to thin it out. A longer mane is also easier to train to one side, so don’t go too short on mane length.
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