Having been “raised” in an A show level h/j barn, I’ve known how to properly pull a mane since the very beginning. I earned extra money in high school pulling manes and clipping noses/ears/legs for people in the barn. In those days everything’s mane was pulled, and if the horse didn’t like to have it’s mane pulled then it got a little sleepy juice and a twitch and we pulled it anyway. That’s just how it was done. Putting a pair of scissors anywhere near a mane was basically a crime. Every horse I’ve ever owned has had it’s mane pulled, in the traditional way. That is, until the horse came along that WOULD NOT STAND FOR IT and changed my mind.
Sadie, from the word go (and the first time I tried pulling her mane was as a yearling, so no exaggeration here), would flip her lid the second I started backcombing. And she’s not such a pleasant creature when she’s angry. Attach a twitch to her and pretty much all you’ve done is armed her with a deadly weapon and pissed her off even more.
She forced me to find a new way to do manes, because a) I like being alive b) I can’t stand an unkempt mane, but drugging her to the gills every 4-6 weeks to pull it seemed a mite excessive. I tried a few different methods before I settle on one I liked. Sadie became my mane-non-pulling guinea pig (I also learned to body clip on her too, poor little baby horse). I tried a SoloComb, which was just not good. Way too choppy.
I tried the flip it over and scissor it at little 45 degree angles method, which, well… lets not talk about it. Don’t do that. The internet lies.
I liked the clipper blade method, where you back comb and then just use a clipper blade to “cut” the hair you would normally pull. That worked decently looks-wise but she still objected to the back combing and it was a little tricky to get everything even.
Finally I settled on the scissoring method where you make tiny cuts straight up into the mane. For her and Kai it worked great, although their manes were thick so sometimes I would go through and thin them a bit with a clipper blade.
These days when I get a new horse or find myself with the task of cleaning up someone else’s horse, I always give a half-hearted attempt at the traditional pulling method. If I get any objection at all, I just go straight to scissors. The key obviously is in how you angle them. Cutting straight across is nothing short of terrifying unless you’re into that blunt look (I’m not). Even a 45 degree angle leaves it too choppy IMO. It’s got to be straight up into the hair, little pieces, and fast chopping. Henry’s mane is really perfect for this method because it’s pretty thin. I can do his in about 10 minutes.
Every time I whip my scissors out to do a mane I’m a little sheepish about it, but it seems like more and more people “pull” manes the same way these days. I’m not the only one… right?
While we’re on the subject of manes, I’ve been thinking about letting Henry’s grow out until our next event in May and doing dutch/cobra braids on him. I really don’t like looking at a “long” mane on a day to day basis, but it’s impossible to do those kind of braids with a mane as short as I like.
He’s pretty cute in buttons
But I dunno… I think he’d be handsome in dutch. What do you think? Worth the annoyance of a longer mane?