Top tips for mane and tail care

A glossy coat with a flowy mane and tail is one stunning sign of a healthy horse. Some horses are spoilt with a thick tail and a perfect mane, while others are on the complete other side of the spectrum. If your horse’s mane and tail looks a bit ratty, thin, dry, rubbed out or fizzy, then try our top tips for getting your horse back to show condition!

  1. From the inside out

Healthy coats are the result of a well-balanced diet and good physical health, and the same goes for manes and tails. If your horse constantly has a dry or dull coat, he may be lacking in nutrients or may be unwell. It’s best to consult your vet to check your horse to make sure he isn’t coming down with something or suffering from an unidentified illness. Have a nutritionist assess your horse’s diet to make sure he is receiving the right food on a daily basis for his workload and lifestyle.

2. Don’t pull

Many people pull their horse’s mane and tail to thin and shorten it. This usually does more harm than good and can actually be painful for your horse, despite the common belief that it doesn’t hurt to pull. If your horse has a thick or frizzy mane, rather use a conditioning product to encourage the mane to lie flatter. Use a thinning comb and scissors to thin the mane and only cut once you’re happy with how the mane is lying.

  3. Step away from the brush

Most of us have been told to keep the brushing of the tail to a minimum. Brushing the tail pulls out several of the hairs, or breaks them in the process, and these certainly do not grow back overnight. It’s best to do as little as possible, but if you simply cannot resist a flowy tail, rather use a conditioning product or a detangler to keep the tail thick and lush.

 4. Horse versus human

Human brushes are not designed for your horse’s mane and tail. All they will do is break off the hairs, causing damage and unevenness. Stick to horse brushes only and chat to tack shop assistants about which brushes will best suit what you want to do with your horse’s mane and tail. In addition to this, just because you brush your hair every day and wash it every other day does not mean your horse needs the same treatment! It’s best to interfere as little as possible.

4. Plaiting for perfection

You don’t only need to plait your horse’s mane when it’s show time. Plaiting down the mane, without rolling the plaits, prevents the mane from frizzing and encourages it to lie down flat on the neck. You can leave your horse in plaits for about a week and you should notice that it’s much tamer when undone. Horses with very long manes, such as Friesians, especially benefit from having their manes left in plaits as it prevents tangling and keeps it clean.

5. Don’t wrap his tail

It’s nearly impossible to keep a wrap on your horse’s tailbone unless it is so tight that you run the risk of cutting off his circulation. Wraps often do more harm than good, and if it ends up irritating your horse, he will likely just rub his tail to try and get it off.

6. Relieve the rubbing

If your horse rubs his mane or tail, determine why. Dirty or sweaty conditions, sensitive skin, allergies or infection may all be reasons why your horse is rubbing. Make sure he is clean and regularly groomed, but only bath if necessary. Have your vet check him if you suspect a medical problem. In more extreme cases, your horse may need a cortisone shot to help relieve the itching.

Five more tips appear in the February issue (119) of HQ > Shop now