Tips & Techniques on careing for your horses mane & tail

~After bathing, apply detangler/leave-in conditioner to the mane and tail. Work product in good with your hands, making sure to cover all areas. Begin brushing with the Tail Tamer Deluxe Paddle Brush. If the mane and tail are still wet, you may choose to begin with the Tail Tamer Jumbo Rake Comb. Always remember: To avoid excess hair tear out and breakage, start brushing at the bottom and work your way up gradually in small sections. This technique will help keep your horse's mane and tail growing strong and healthy!   

~A good way to keep your horses tail clean after washing it is to keep it in a tail bag. You don't always have to braid the tail to put it in a bag. I don't!

~A good tool to thin manes with a natural look are old clipper blades.

~Make a rinse of one cup apple cider vinegar in five gallons of water and sponge onto your horse's body after bathing to cut any missed shampoo film and help in repelling flies. (and boy does it ever!)

~Banding or braiding hair while it is still damp will help in controlling "fly-aways," and a light misting of spray gel followed by layering a towel over the "mane-do" until dry, will guarantee flat, neat braids. Or use setting gel to tame those stray or short wisps.

~Keeping static to a minimum is a cinch -- just wipe through that mane once with a dryer sheet. Cut into strips and tied in manes and tails, dryer sheets will discourage even the most persistent flies and other "nagging" insects from your horse.

~Stroke away ringside dust with inexpensive, soft cotton gloves, available at most hardware stores. Toss them in the wash with the rest of your horse towels and they're ready for the next show or practice.

~Towels swirled around in a mixture of baby oil and water and then rung out and dried make great polishing cloths, and they will bring up the shine of a healthy coat. Baby oil is also good for rubbing inside ears that have become chapped or irritated from clipping.

~Listerine worked into the base of the mane will help take the "ouch" out if your horse is sensitive to having his mane pulled. Massaged full strength into the base of the tail, Listerine will help those horses who insist upon doing their own tail styling by rubbing on fences, posts, and the stable walls. .

Mane Attractions   
In hatler and breed classes, mane styles are very important. The extra time and TLC you put into preparing your horse's mane will be well worth the effort. You can get special clips to enhance your horses appearance as well as highlight specific conformation. In stock horses: Appaloosas, Paints & Quarter Horses, banding or "pulling" is often seen. Roaching is seen on some horses to emphasize there long slender necks. This also is seen on some working stock horses to prevent burrs, sticks etc. that they are exposed to from sticking in the mane. For hunters, braiding is traditional. The more the better! This makes your horses neck look longer. Always allow plenty of extra time in you grooming schedule for the perfect braids. Many breeds prefer natural full manes. Ribbons, lace and other accessories are added for special events or just for our own pleasure! (My paso isn't always too thrilled with the purple ribbon in his mane & tail!) There are special designs for the mighty draft horses, each requiring its own styling technique. So as you can see, manes are defiently important to our horses.

Some Do's & Donts
For a clean and healthy mane and tail in t he spring you must make mane and tail care a top priority. Here's some tips to make your horses mane and tails look there best.

~Weekly shampooing is a general rule, even if you don't wash the whole horse at that time.

~Thoroughly wet the mane and tail before applying shampoo. Leave the shampoo on 3-4 minutes before completly rinseing. If the mane and tail show heavy dandruff, use a medicated shampoo first. Thoroughly massage it into the roots of the mane and head and dock of the tail. Leave it on the skin for 3-4 minutes before COMPLETELY rinsing it. Water should run clear after rinsing. Such dandruff may be the result of inadequate rinsing of shampoo and conditioner in the past.

~Separate the hair when wet with your fingers, instead of combing it. Separate from the bottom up, not the top down, so that you have less hair damage and breakage.

~Apply a deep conditioner to the mane and tail once the tangles are gone. Decide if you want to use the type you rinse out or stay in conditioner.

~Train the mane to one side. When the hair is wet, use your fingers to comb it to one side, then tie it down with rubber bands. Braiding is optional.

~Keep your horses tail trimmed and clipped according to the style of riding you do. Dressage riders prefer clipping the top of the tail 3-4" on each side so you see a nice clear line when the horse is in motion. The length of the tail can be as long as you like. Traditionally, it is 4" below the hock. The end of the tail is "banged." This is how to bang a tail: After the tail is washed, detangled and dried, hold the tail up and drape it over one hand. Blunt cut it with very sharp scissors so that it is level across. It must hang level when the horse is in motion to look good. In dressage, a really nice tail will hit the hocks as the horse swings at the trot and draw attention to the hind end. Hunter riders keep the tail long and braid it down the top 3/4 of the tailbone. The end is not banged but left pointed for a natural flow. Jumper riders bang their horses' tails.

~Always be sure to completly rinse your horses mane and tail.

~Completely brush through the horse's tail every day, especially if the horse has fragile hair. The more you brush, the more hair you lose. Also, hold the bulk of the hair in one hand and gradually brush from the bottom to the top. Never start at the top and yank down.

~Use Show Sheen on the tail on a regular basis. Since it is a silicone based product, using it every day will dry out the hair. Don't comb a wet tail or mane.

~Think you must have clippers to clip a bridle path. Blunt end scissors can do a find job. It just takes longer.

~Braid the tail to keep it clean, as this will break off fragile hairs faster and cause stress to the hair follicles.

~Think you can get away without paying attention to the mane and tail. Especially as the weather warms up during spring, the mane and tail are the perfect breeding ground for fungus and other skin problems. Weekly cleansing just makes good preventive sense.

Classical Braiding

There are several ways to braid. The most common for long maned horses are the French braid and Macrame Braid. For short maned horses the more common braid used is the high plait, tight plait or the plaited loop. Tails are also braided as are forelocks. Hunt classes usually see horses tails, manes and forelocks braided while Show Hack class generally has the mane and forelock braided while the tail remains natural. Dressage requires braiding with the exception of very long haired horses who are not required to braid but generally do use at least one of these techniques.

Braiding The Tail
~Make sure your horses tail is clean and free of tangles. If you have ever french braided a persons hair, this is very similar except you use two strands of hair instead of three. Take a small strand of hair from the left side of the tail and one from the right, cross the right lock of hair over the left lock. Now introduce another lock of hair from the left side of the tail, cross it over the lock in your right hand.

~Continue this method, right.... left.... right.... left. The secret here is not to take too much hair for each lock.

~When you reach the bottom of the dock (the bottom of the hard part of the horses tail) continue to braid using 3 equal strands as you would do making a normal braid.

~Use strands from the top part of the tail only and continue to braid until you come to the end of the tail.

~Fold the bottom of the finished braid under, about 8 inches, and using cotton, thread, or yarn sew it together so that it lays flat. Once you have finished this the tail braiding is complete!

The Macrame Braid
~Macrame braiding is another technique used on horses with very long manes. Although it is one of the easier ways to braid, it is also one of the most time consuming. The finishing touch to macrame braiding is usually to wrap black or white braiding tape around each of the places where the hair has been secured with thread or rubberbands. To macrame, begin by sectioning off the mane into many small sections of hair and then band each section with rubberbands or thread. Pull the section tight and band about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the base of the hair root. Do this all the way from the top to the bottom of the neckline. Each banded section will have a section of hair hanging from it.

~Divide the first strand in half and then divide the one next to it in half. Band these two pieces, one from each section, together 1/2 to 1 inch down from the band that is already there. The first section at the top of the mane will have a piece left over. I will tell you what to do with that later. Take the 1/2 inch section you have and take the next section and divide it in half and band this 1/2 section to the one you had left over from the one you just did. Continue with this proceedure until you have completed the entire length of the neckline.

~You now have your second row in. Start at the top again. Take all of the first hanging piece and 1/2 of the piece next to it and band it 1/2 to 1 inch from the rubberband now in place. Take the 1/2 piece you have left, divide the piece next to it in to 1/2 and band these two together. Continue until you have done the whole neckline. Continue to do this for as many rows as you think looks good. The left over piece at the beginning and the left over piece at the end should be braided with a regular braid and secured at the bottom. Once the macrame is done you may apply your tape for decoration.

The Forelock Braid
The forlock is braided with a regular braid. This braid is folded in half and banded with a rubberband or thread. The braid can also be rolled into a ball and secured, the choice is yours.