I recently blogged on how to plait a mane and recommended you start the process with a short and clean mane. When faced with a mane which you’re pretty sure isn’t going to be tamed into neat and even plaits anytime soon what do you do?!
I’ve asked Liv Gude from Professional Equine Grooms to help us. After many years of grooming full- and part-time for several Olympians, Liv saw the need to bring Professional Grooms of all disciplines together in a supportive, informative community in an effort to acknowledge them as skilled individuals, deserving of all the rights and respect that other professionals earn. The website and Facebook page provides everything from grooming tips to job listings and blogs. Liv now works full time on Pro Equine Grooms, and enjoys her Grand Prix Dressage horse Miguel and her Hunter Comet. Both horses earn their keep by posing as models for the website. I’m pretty sure there’s not a grooming question Liv’s not already covered or is unable to answer so make sure you check out the huge amount of information she has available!
So, over to a professional!
What’s the scoop on pulling manes?
Pulling manes is a hot topic in the world of Grooming!! As a Professional Groom, your job is to make the show horse look his best while honoring breed and discipline standards. It is also your job to make it comfortable for your horse if you need to pull the mane.
Most jumpers, dressage, event, and some western horses sport a shorter, tidy, and thinned mane. This helps tremendously when braiding or banding! Baroque horses and some western horses, as well as some Arabs, will sport longer manes.
The vast majority of horses do not mind having their mane pulled, and in fact, some of them quite like it. (One of mine will take a nap during his pulling sessions!! If I stop, he wakes up and nudges me to continue.)
Some horses do not need their mane pulled, only shortened. The purpose of pulling is to thin the hair, and shortening it is a secondary consequence of pulling. If your horse’s mane is quite thin to start, you can probably get away with just shortening it with a blade.
If your horse’s mane is thick, and you need to pull it, there are some things to do to make it easier for both of you. Pull the mane after exercise when the pores and follicles are opened. Pull only a few hairs at the same time. Use a topical cream with some lidocaine on the mane base if your horse is very sensitive. Pull the mane in sections, doing this over a few days will help also. Reward! If pulling the mane is such an ordeal, you may consider doing this only if your horse is sleepy from a veterinary treatment.