Q: I am planning to compete my horse in show hunter classes this season. Unfortunately he has a very thick, unruly mane that lies on both sides of his neck. How can I tame his mane in order to be able to plait it into the small, neat plaits I see in the showring?
Liz Clemence replies: Pulling your horse’s mane will thin it, thereby making it more controllable and easier to plait.
Pull the mane on a warm day or after exercise when the pores are open. Begin by pulling the hair from underneath until you achieve a suitable length for plaiting.
Try to keep the mane to an even length and thickness – any particularly thin or weak areas of mane can be levelled using scissors rather than thinning them further by pulling.
Finish by trimming the part of the mane which disappears under the saddle, and about 1 to 1«ins of mane from the poll region to allow the headpiece to lie neatly in place. Do not trim any more mane than necessary.
Ideally, your horse’s mane should lie evenly on the off-side of his neck. Dividing his mane into equal parts and securing the hair into long plaits or bunches once you have pulled it will encourage it to lie on the correct side.