BANDING THE MANE
The mane should be length you want it before you start banding (about 4 inches). The mane should have been pulled, shortened, washed, dried and brushed out.
If you want to visually lengthen your horse’s neck, band smaller sections of mane which gives you more bands, making the neck appear longer. You will have to try a few, then stand back and take a look. It will not look good if you use too little amounts of mane in each band.
If you want to shorten the appearance of a long thin neck, put in fewer bands by using a slightly wider portion of mane.
A thin, wispy mane will look better is you use a wider section of mane for each band, while a thick, course mane will lie flat only if you use a narrow section of mane for each band.
You need to dampen the portion of mane you are banding. Dip a stiff brush into a small bucket of water and brush the mane wet and flat.
It is easiest if you stand on a stool so you are well above the horse’s neck.
CAUTION: Be sure you are not left or right of the section of hair you are about to band. You want the section to be banded directly opposite you. If it is not, you will tend to pull the section crooked.
Starting at the top of the neck, separate a section of mane about a half-inch wide. Using a fine-toothed comb, comb through the hair until every hair is smooth and flat against the horse’s neck. Keep the lower portion of mane out of your way by pushing your comb into it. Having the comb in the next section of hair to be banded is conveniently handy and the comb doesn’t get lost. You can also you a butterfly clip to hold the mane not being banded, if that is easier for you.
Take a rubber band in your left hand—again assuming your are right handed—insert your left index finger and thumb into the band, making it wide enough that you can grasp the section of hair to be banded.
Hold the section of hair downward against the horse’s neck with you right hand, keeping the hair strands tight and smooth.
The rubber band is still in your left hand. Place it over the section of mane, grasping the hair. Using your right hand, grasp the rubber band just below your left thumb to hold it in place while you pull the section of hair through the rubber band with your left hand. Try not to pull the hair upward as you pull it through the rubber band.
The rubber band should now be in your right hand. The hair should be smooth and tight. Hold the hair downward with your left hand and with your right thumb and index finger twist the rubber band once. This time the left hand holds the rubber band while the right hand pulls the hair through.
Twist and pull five times (or until you can’t twist it again), having changed hands with each twist.
I like to finish by twisting 3 or 4 more times without changing hands. I think this helps create a neater appearance and holds the band in place longer.
To tighten the bands, split the underneath hair in half and pull sideways. You want the bands snug, but not too tight which will be uncomfortable for the horse. This is the step which flattens the band to the neck. When finished, trim the bottom of the mane with trimming scissors to even the entire mane.
When the mane has been banded you can decide what to do about the horse’s forelock; band it, brush it or braid it.
Give the newly banded (or braided) mane a light spray of gel, then cover the mane with a towel until the gel dries. This usually guarantees a flat, neat band. Tack stores sell several kinds of mane and tail gels.
• Taken from the online course Preparation for Competition taught by Cathy Hanson.