Guest Blogger: Shortening Manes With Katie

PONY'TUDE welcomes the wise and wonderful Katie, here with a fun-filled post about how to shorten your horse's mane without pulling. The lovely Bridget was her model. Take it away!

If you know anything about me in my horsey life, you know I am a type AAA when it comes to two things:  ground manners and proper turnout.**  I am the old school sort who believes heavily in white saddle pads and has only recently accepted the thrill of colored breeches.

So what is a stickler like myself to do when I am dealing with a horse that genuinely doesn't like having its mane pulled?  I believe most, if not all horses can be acclimated to clippers, but I truly believe there are horses out there with more sensitive crests.  I don't want to hurt the horse or fight them over a haircut, but I also don't want it to look like I'm riding a broodmare. 
The solution:  thinning the mane with scissors.   A poorly cut mane looks... well, it looks like a poorly cut mane.  A well cut mane should look essentially like a pulled mane.  The process is very similar to pulling a mane, and if you don't know how to pull a mane, you should definitely learn that first.  Go through the mane and tease out the longer, lower sections, just as if you were pulling a mane.  When you start, you can start with thicker sections than you would pull, but don't go too crazy with thickness.  Next, hold the section with one hand and use the other to cut straight up into the section, starting where you would like the end of the mane to fall and cutting a sharp angle up to the crest (or close to it, depending on length).
Keep working as if you were pulling.  I like to do the mane in two halfs; I use the first to establish a general length and thickness, and then then second half I just match the first.  As with pulling a mane, be conservative - you can always cut more off.  You can see in the second to last photo her mane is short but there is a thick area.  I went through and pulled maybe 10% and cut maybe another 10%.  If your horse doesn't have a very thick mane, you will want to go through perhaps only once with the above technique, and then you will want to follow same process but change the angle of your scissors so it is closer to 45 degrees than 90.
Her mane tends to fly on both sides of her neck, even when it is weighed down by the length.  If I were taking her out in public, I would make sure it is cut at least a week out and then damp braid it over.  In general, pull or cut at least 1-2 weeks before your public debut.  Once you have your process set, it is helpful to do a little pulling or cutting every week so that nothing gets too out of hand.  Many horses that can stand 5 minutes of pulling can't even come close to tolerating the hour plus required for a "big" mane pulling session.

One last thing on either pulling or cutting:  it takes time.  A lot of it (this took about 1.5 hours, give or take).  Set your horse up for success - make sure they've had a chance to drink some water and munch on some hay recently, make sure they've got plenty of fly spray, and don't do it during feeding time!

**I mean appearance wise.  I care about daily turnout in paddocks as well, but it doesn't tend to be a day-to-day issue for me.

Bridget Before. Unsightly!

Teasing out a section of hair

Cutting with scissors pointed up

Halfway there!

Shorter, but still too thick.



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