Q: My horse’s mane is super thick, and he hates having it pulled. Do you have any tips to help?
When working with the mane, you may find that your horse wants to back up, dance around, or have you nowhere near his ears. Be aware of your horse’s body language, and work to make the situation safer. Grab a friend to hold a lead rope instead of using cross ties, hang a hay net for him, or work on touching his ears and poll daily before you pull. He should not raise his head, move away, or otherwise try and escape. Only then can you try and pull the mane.
For horses that will not tolerate a long pulling session, incorporate mane pulling into the grooming routine. Back comb and pull two or three times per day, nothing more. Doing this daily desensitizes your horse, and also allows you to avoid a marathon session.
You can also pull the mane after your horse exercises. He will be tired, so less likely to pitch a fit. He will also be warm, which opens his pores and allows the mane to come out easier. If you give your horse a post workout treat, pull the mane once or twice before you give the treat. Throw him a party when he starts to be still for his mane to be worked on!
Try and work up and down the mane, like a typewriter going across a page. Focusing on one section at a time can be irritating, so move up and down the mane frequently.
You can also experiment with pulling down, or pulling straight up. You may find that your horse likes one way better. The same goes for sides: pulling on the left may be better than the right. Work slowly, praise frequently, and do a tiny bit every day!
After many years of grooming for several Olympians, LIV GUDE saw the need to bring Professional Grooms of all disciplines together in a supportive, informative community. Liv founded www.proequinegrooms.com, which provides everything from grooming tips to job listings and blogs and welcomes all members of the horse industry and horse owners alike to participate.
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!