Ever wonder how some horses like reiners or Friesians have such a beautiful long mane? There a few reasons. First is purely genetics; if any horse’s sire or dam has a long mane, then their offspring may have a long mane. The second is hair maintenance. Frequent care of any mane will cause it to grow longer and stay tangle free.
Care of a long mane is simple, although sometimes time consuming. It consists of washing the mane and putting it into braids at least once every month. Here are the steps the professionals use to a maintain and grow a beautiful long mane:
First, the hair should be thoroughly washed and conditioned. Take special care to scrub the crest of the neck where the mane grows out of. This will massage the hair follicles and encourage hair growth. After washing, be sure to rinse out any remaining soap and conditioner residue. If there is any soap left on your horse’s skin it will become itchy causing your horse to rub out his mane.
Next, once your horse’s mane is thoroughly rinsed, wait for it to dry. For a faster dry time you can blow dry your horse’s mane, but be careful that you desensitize your horse to the sound of the blow-dryer beforehand. Once dry, gently comb through the mane.
Lastly put the mane into braids. A horse with an average thickness of mane each braid will use four to five inches of mane hair. This will insure you don’t have a large number of tiny braids to deal with. When you begin braiding be sure to make the very top of your braids as loose as possible. If the top of the braid is tight, and your horse puts his head down to graze it will pull a large amount of hair out (this is especially true at the withers). Once you’ve insured that the top of your braid is loose, the rest of your braid should be tight so that your braids don’t fall out. Tie off your braids about three inches from the end of the mane hair.
If your horse has very thin hair the product MTG may also be applied to the roots as directed.
These steps should be repeated ideally once every two weeks, but should be done at least once a month. The longer the braids are left in the more at risk your horse is to pull out entire braids.
Long manes do not have to be braided like this; however, if they are not, they are at risk of getting wind knots as depicted in the picture below. Wind knots are very common for long-maned horses and commonly need to be ripped or cut out causingthe mane to be uneven in appearance.