Last Updated on February 21, 2022
Just like humans, horses come in a range of different hairstyles! For some breeds, a short horse mane is fashionable, while other horse owners shorten their horse’s mane for practical reasons. Let’s find out all about short horse mane care!
Why Do Some Horses Have Short Manes?
Horses have two different types of hair on their body. The first of these is the hair on their body, often referred to as the coat. These are short, fine hairs, that only grow to a certain length before being shed or molted.
The second type of hair is the thick, wiry hair in a horse’s mane and tail. These hairs grow much longer than the hairs in the coat and do not tend to fall out as frequently.
If you lined up several horses, you would see that they all have different lengths of mane and tail. So why do some horses have short manes, and what is the purpose of a short horse mane?
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Short Mane Horse Breeds
Some breeds of horses will naturally have a short mane. This means that the hair does not grow beyond a certain length before it falls out. If you look at wild horses, donkeys, and zebras, they all have short manes that stand upright on the crest of the neck.
Other horses have mane hair that is easily broken, causing them to snap. This can lead to the horse having a shorter mane than normal and is particularly common in fine-haired breeds such as Arabians and Thoroughbreds.
Another reason why a horse may have a short mane is that the horse has rubbed the hairs out whilst scratching on a solid object. This is particularly common in horses with hypersensitivity to mosquito bites, a condition called Sweet Itch.
And finally, the most common reason for a short horse mane is that the owner has deliberately made it that way! This may be for fashionable reasons, or for practical reasons.
In some breeds of horse, is it expected that you keep the mane short. This is thought to show off the natural curves of the horse’s neck and can give the illusion that the neck is thicker and more muscular. If you are entering ridden or in-hand showing classes, check with the breed guidelines to see if the judges will expect to see a short mane.
It is also common practice to keep a horse’s mane short for practical reasons. This might be because it is difficult to maintain when it is long, becoming dirty and tangled. A longer mane will also become tangled up with the reins and the rider’s hands, as well as any additional equipment such as lasso ropes or neck-straps.
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Horse With Short Mane – A Beginners Guide
If your horse’s mane is getting out of control, there are several different methods you can use to shorten the hair:
Pulling A Horses Mane
Traditionally, mane pulling was carried out by pulling a few hairs out with a swift pulling motion. This would remove the whole hair, including the root. The result is a thinner, shorter mane that lies neatly on one side of the neck.
To do this, you grasp two or three of the longer mane hairs. Use a comb to push the surrounding hairs upwards, then wrap the hairs around the comb. Use a swift pulling action to pull the hairs out cleanly by the roots.
Understandably, this is not a comfortable procedure for the horse! Pulling the mane directly after exercise will make it less painful, as the horse is warmer and the pores of the skin are more open. It is better to do a small amount at a time than try to pull the whole mane in one day.
Thinning A Horses Mane
Many horses resent having their mane pulled, and a thinning comb can be used to create the same effect. This is a type of comb that has an integrated sharp edge, to cut the hairs rather than pull them out. Cut the hairs off close to the root if the mane needs thinning, or closer to the end if the mane is already thin enough.
Whatever you do, stay away from the normal scissors! Cutting a horse’s mane will not thin it out at all, and you will be left with a short but very thick mane. This will not lie flat on the side of the neck, and you will not be able to achieve a smooth, natural finish.
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Horses With Short Manes – Hogging Or Roaching
The practice of roaching or hogging a horse’s mane is very common in cob breeds. These horses have thick, dense manes that are clipped off altogether, to give a nearly bald crest. The effect is visually very stunning, allowing the muscular neck of these beautiful horses to be seen.
Roaching is a simple technique that uses electric clippers to remove all the mane hair from the neck. This hair will grow back quickly, so it will need to be trimmed regularly. And if you ever decide to let your horse’s mane grow long again, be prepared for a long period of stubby hair that stands upright on the neck!
Completely removing the neck hair can also be beneficial if you live in a warm climate, as the horse will remain cooler and be less likely to sweat. It can also be a good way to start from scratch if your horse’s mane is in poor condition or has been rubbed short.
Short Horse Mane Summary
So, as we have learned, horses manes are kept short for practical reasons, to make them easier to maintain and stop it getting tangled up with the reins. Some horses also have their manes shortened to create a neater appearance and enhance the curve of the neck. Techniques used to create a short horse mane include pulling the hairs out, thinning the mane with scissors, or clipping the entire mane off with clippers.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on short horse mane care! Do you think your horse looks really smart with a short mane? Or perhaps you prefer a long, flowing mane that you can put into braids? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE