Growing Luscious Locks: Tips to Long Manes
By Brandy Smith, PleasureHorse.com
The last three years I have been showing APHA All Around with my gelding, Struttin My Assets, aka “Charlie”, to the tune of multiple World and Reserve World championships, Year End Awards, High Points and many wins. Charlie is not your average All Around horse however; he’s got his own personal trademark. He has a long, white mane that almost reaches his knees! Every show I travel to, I have at least one or two people who come up just to touch it and ask me how I got it so long. I know of several people who have decided to grow out their horse’s manes after seeing my success with it.
Though long manes are still not the norm in the stock breed show rings, it is gaining in popularity to show a horse with a long mane in the Western Pleasure or even the All Around for a select few. If a horse has the right neck and movement for it, it can really accentuate your horse and make you stand out in the pen. Given how many people have asked me my secret for growing a long, healthy mane, I decided to share my process with everyone.
- Start with a good diet. This is the base for a healthy horse and a healthy mane. Good hay and good nutrient rich grain are the basis. I also keep Charlie on a supplement for his hair coat, SmartShine from SmartPak. I think this helps all his hair grow healthy and shiny, including his mane. Since he has been on that supplement, his mane has been even better.
- Start by washing the mane gently. You don’t want to pull and scrub, because that will break the hair. I always use warm water because it is healthier for the hair follicles. I use Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship shampoo and conditioner- it works on my hair and it seems to work for Charlie too! I also use Silver Brights whitening shampoo when his white mane starts to look a little yellow or for an extra bright white for a horse show.
- After washing, let it dry about halfway before brushing. Spray with Healthy Hair Care, Infusium Leave-In Treatment and Canter Mane and Tail. Start at the ends of the hair and work your way up to the roots using small strokes. I always brush in small sections. Once it is brushed, let it dry the rest of the way.
- Before braiding, I spray Healthy Hair Care, Canter Mane and Tail and Jack Be Quick leave in conditioner.
- Braid in semi-thick, two inch sections. Braid tightly so the braids stay in and the hair stays untangled. Braid down as far as possible. Tie off with a rubber band, but don’t tighten it as many times as you can, semi-tight is plenty good.
- Spray with Healthy Hair Care daily.
- Repeat this whole process every three weeks. I also do this before horse shows. If a braid gets really messed up, I will redo it, but the less washing and brushing, the healthier the hair.
- Be careful with hoods and sleazys. Always make sure the hair is sleek and straight in the sleazys and hoods, and don’t leave on for extended periods of time. Make sure you take them off once a day to check the mane and make sure it is not bunched up and ratty.
- In between classes at shows when the mane doesn’t need to be down, I put it in a loose running braid down their neck to keep it under control and untangled. A running braid is a bit like a French braid, where the braid is against the crest of the neck.
See these pictures below to look at the steps:
Products list: SmartShine, Sliver Brights shampoo, Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Shampoo and conditioner, Infusium Leave In Treatment, Healthy Hair Care, Canter Mane and Tail, Jack Be Quick Leave in Conditioner, good hair brush, and rubber bands.
There is my secret procedure! I hope this helps some people out in growing their horse’s manes, and I expect to see more and more beautiful long manes around the show rings. I know I will always have one or two in my barn! Just remember, not every horse has the genetics or neck to grow a long mane, so use your best judgment.