If the mane is really long you can use a thinning comb to cut off large portions at a time.   (TIP:  Never try to pull or shorten a newly washed and conditioned mane or tail.  It will be too slippery. )

          A thinning comb is small with closely placed teeth and sharp cutting edges.  If you want a mane of approximately 4 inches in length, take a small portion of hair and place the comb on it about 4.5 inches from the crest of the neck.  Now pull down sharply on the comb.  The hair should break off with the desired irregular edge.

          You will pull the mane to the desired 4-inch length.

          Using electric clippers is not recommended, however, it can be done with a very long, thick mane.  If using electric clippers, carefully cut through small sections of the mane, again about 4.5 inches from the crest of the neck.  If you use electric clippers, check constantly to be sure you are leaving the correct length of mane.

          Again, you will pull the mane to the desired 4-inch length.

          A trick to help reduce the horse’s reaction to mane pulling is the use of a strong leg brace or liniment on the roots of the hair at the crest of the neck.  (You can also use Listerine—doesn’t even have to be mint.)   You are going to start “pulling” the mane in the middle of the neck, so dampen about a four-inch long section of mane with the liniment.  Apply liniment to each new section of mane as you work up and down the mane.

          To thin, even and shorten the mane, take a few of the longer hairs and hold them at the end in your left hand.  Assuming your are right handed, use a mane comb in your right hand and back comb the hair away from the group being held by your left hand.  Wrap the hair in your left hand around the comb and with a quick short jerk, remove the hair.  Use the same procedure with a few hairs at a time.  It is slow work, so don’t get in a hurry.

          Keep checking as you move along to make sure the thinning and shortening you are doing is leaving the mane the even length you desire.

          Most horses will not object too much to “pulling”, especially if you don’t try to pull too much hair at one time.  If the crest of the horse’s neck is being pulled toward you when you attempt to “pull” the mane, then you are taking too much mane at one time.   Pulling a mane is a long process, but will go more quickly and smoothly, if it is done in little tugs rather than big yanks.

          Whether the mane lies on the left side of the horse’s neck, or the right side doesn’t really matter.   What does matter is that it lies “flat” and “quiet” on which ever side it chooses.

          You can band a longer mane to “teach” it to lie flat on one side or the other.  Or you can braid the mane to keep it on one side.  Finally, which is what I do, you can have the horse wear a “Slinky” or “Mane Tamer” to keep the mane in place.

• Taken from the online course Preparation for Competition taught by Cathy Hanson.

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