To Pull or Not To Pull Your Horse’s Mane
Growing up in the show world, I was always taught that it was the best practice to pull a horse’s mane. I was told that pulling would make the mane thin enough to easily maintain and braid. Anytime I would use scissors to tidy up, I was scolded. It never really made sense to me, especially when I had more than one horse who could not stand their mane being pulled. But I continued the practice because I believed that’s what everyone was doing to keep their horses’ manes show ring ready.
As I have transitioned into a professional horsewoman and started forming many of my own opinions, I now view mane pulling as virtually unessential. Even for the show ring, there are many other tools on the market that can make even the most unruly manes tameable and braiding-friendly. I personally use thinning shears to help thin out a thick mane, then I’ll go in with a comb and scissors to even it out. This combination produces the same effect as pulling, but without the pain that it can cause some horses! Here’s a link to a helpful video that shows you how to properly use this method:
I reached out to friends on social media to get other riders’ opinions on pulling vs. using scissors. My poll on Instagram showed that 60% of the riders who responded trim their horses’ manes using scissors and/or thinning shears. Of the riders who said they would rather trim than pull, their opinions included comments such as:
“[Pulling causes] too much pain, it’s just as easy with scissors and some creativity.”
“[I use] thinning shears for 98% and only pull the remaining 2% [for a more natural look].”
“I wouldn’t want someone pulling my hair out!”
The responses of the riders who preferred to pull their horses’ manes can be summed up with the comments of “too unruly just to trim” and “I like the natural look better”.
Always choose the practice that works best for you and your horse. As Becky Schipps at Heels Down Mag once said, “A butchered mane can be fixed in a few minutes by skilled hands, but a horse who has been made fearful by being forced into an archaic practice for the sake of beauty will take much longer.” Thank you for joining and supporting our community. We are so excited to have you along for the ride!
Until next time,
pc: Jessica Champagne