The Mane Story

During the Cross Country phase at Red Hills, horses may gallop 25-30 miles an hour between jumps. Imagine a galloping horse with a long flowing mane and it conjures up a beautiful image in your mind. Now, imagine the rider that is being whipped in the face by that same beautiful mane and you begin to understand why the manes you will see at Red Hills tend to be trimmed. The trimmed mane will be braided for the more formal phases of the competition.

A mane is “pulled” with a mane comb, a devise that is a comb with a razor built in. This comb both shortens and thins the mane with a pulling stroke. To make it tidier and easier to manage and braid, the mane will be trimmed to a length of four to five inches. If a mane is very thick, the under layers may be plucked to reduce the thickness.

Button (or Rosette) braids are a popular for dressage and show jumping. To create these, the mane is divided into sections about ¾ of an inch wide. Each section is braided, then secured with thread or yarn that is woven in, or with a rubber band. Mane hair that is five inches or so is the ideal length with a longer mane resulting in rounder buttons. The number of buttons depends on the width of each section of hair to be braided, as well as the length of the horse’s neck. The average number of braids is 15 to 20, but it may take many more to make the horse look elegant.

Photo courtesy of Shems Hamilton Photography