The Mane Event

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.

Lies. All lies. I is always pleasant.

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.

Why does she keep telling so many lies about me in this post? I’m an angel.

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.

Ok this isn’t Sadie but I scissored Kai’s mane the same way.

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.

halfway there

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?

Button Braids




39 thoughts on “The Mane Event

  1. Your method sounds a) amazing for my mares, who like your Sadie, will keel you ded if you pull them and b) is there a way I can beg you to make a video of this witchcraft? Pleeeeaaassseee? My crappy maned mares would like to not look like homeless kids.


  2. First of all, Sadie is absolutely precious. What a cutie!

    So I grew up the same, knowing that pulling manes was the only way to go. Until I had a giant mare with a giant mane. She stood for it, but I would get a 1/4 qay through and my knuckles and cuticles would be bleeding. With her huge crest her mane was SO thick it had to be pulled every few weeks, and that wasn’t an option. I too tried the whole flip it over and cut and yada yada but I also found the scissors cutting up was super effective. I did that and did big dutch braids the last year I owned her. Saved me a ton of time and wrecked hands LOL.

    I am finally going to do something with Estella’s mane, but I haven’t decided what. I don’t want to pull it simply because I am lazy (which is also why it is long). Maybe I will bust out this scissors and see what happens ;).


  3. first off please fly back to PHL for a day or so so you can do Remus mane. Thanks you are a peach 🙂

    Second,i always pull Remus mane the old fashion way, back comb and pull, he doesnt mind it but he grows like a thelwell which is hard to keep up with after a long winter and he managed AGAIN to rub half way down his mane in the hay feeder. SUCH a great look (NOT).

    But i do know people who do the scissors method and it looks decent (Oh and there are those who don’t do it decent:) I dont dare try scissors. I cant cut paper right. Manes no.

    I do not like long manes (even growing up with Morgans, i pulled manes). But whatever floats your boat. I think Henry can carry it off.

    PS everyone at my barn wants me to ROACH Remus mane (He came to me roached, puke me out). NEVER and what do i grab onto in case of a bobble jumping?? shudder)



      1. I think Henry could carry the longer length off (Some horses just can’t). And thanks for the memory of Sadie and her ‘evil ways’ 🙂


  4. I vote yes to a longer mane for Dutch braid purposes. I used to be adamant that Mollie’s mane was SHORT at all times but lately my allowance of hair length has gotten a little longer, and I have to say it’s growing on me. Lol for puns.


  5. I’ve always been a puller, but anything that makes it easier is ok in my book! I may have to try the scissor method and see how that goes. I think Addy wouldn’t care if I pulled and yanked all day long but ughhh it takes forever.
    I’ve never seen the dutch braids before, those are pretty!


  6. I have used the clipper blade method on some manes that were thin to keep them as thick as possible to braid, but your scissors method fascinates me! I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try it, though!


  7. Another person here requesting a video! I’ve never really had an education in mane pulling, and currently my horses’s mane looks like moths attacked it.


  8. I haven’t pulled a mane in so long. The stripping blade is my friend, and I can get away with it because none of my horses had been/will be braided for hunters. Henry’s mane looks pulled! Did not know such a look was possible with scissors.


  9. I’ve had sensitive TBs most of my riding career that HATED having their manes pulled in the traditional sense. I’ve used a thinning knife to “pull” after backcombing as well as a thinning comb like here: It gives the same effect of a pulled mane but it doesn’t annoy my horse and takes me about 20 minutes.

    I just pulled my mare’s mane last night, must be about time for show season to start. 🙂 I’d also like to see a video of your scissor method, I’m all for anything that saves more time!


  10. Sadie is very adorable! Fawkes sounds kind of like Sadie but in addition to have zero tolerance he also has approximately 3-5 different manes growing out of his neck. Since we aren’t showing I have largely given up on trying to tame that beast (the mane I mean). I have managed to get a reasonable look using the combing to the wrong side of the neck method and cutting, but it definitely isn’t perfect.

    I will have to look up this scissor method you speak of.


  11. Totally worth the annoyance! I keep Pig’s mane at 5-6″, also known as the length of my tiny carnie hands from fingertip to end of palm. I don’t pull it, I don’t even thin it. I trim the length with a bot knife. The fuller the mane, the better the arched look of the braids. So I guess the question is actually, can you handle a thick mane?

    Here are his “dutch” braids:
    Another view, where I did a better job & with less winter frizz:
    Here are his braids from the other side, where you can see how they stick up:
    Here’s a close up:


    1. He doesn’t have a very thick mane, I never actually thin it out so the thickness he has now is all there is. From playing around with it a bit, I’m guessing I’ll probably have to make the braids fairly big to get enough hair for it to work.


  12. Love the Dutch braids! I’ve used the thinning comb but I’ve never tried the “proper” scissor method. I second the request for a video!


  13. I keep trying to spread the word and I posted about it a while back (2013) so I’ll share here too. As the owner of one giant Stampede who used to require happy drugs to get his mane pulled, a video on youtube saved me from having to drug him and go through the torture of pulling tons of mane at once. You have to be patient at first because horses who have had their mane ripped out assume bad things are coming, but if you are patient you can pull the mane and have a happy horse. The trick is that after you wrap the hair around your comb you do NOT rip it out. Hold a steady pressure and your horse will literally release the hairs. It’s truly a lifesaver.

    PS I love the look of the Dutch braids but I’m firmly rooted h/j so you will have to do them for me to admire!


    1. Honestly scissoring is so much easier and faster for me than pulling, and without any of the fuss, I dunno that I’d bother lol. But it’s funny, my mare objected to even just the backcombing from the very beginning, although she had never had her mane pulled before. She truly hated having her mane messed with!


      1. Yeah, you really don’t have a reason to need to pull, but for someone doing hunter braids with a thick maned horse it is pretty much a necessity. I just like to put info out for anyone who is out reading so they know they don’t have to do things the hard way. I wish I had known a long time ago!


  14. My jump trainer in NV taught me how to “pull” a mane with scissors and it changed my life. So easy and I think it still looks great (if you do it correctly of course…)


  15. I really like long manes. I adopted an OTTB years ago who had a long flowing mane and the rescue pulled it “for me” before shipping her and I was so upset. They thought they were being nice. My gelding is basically a living My Little Pony, so pulling his mane would be a tragedy. I do the dutch braids on him when I need to. I have been trying to figure out if I should pull or roach my mule’s mane as she’s not going to grow anything long enough for a dutch, but I can’t bring myself to remove her mane . I guess I keep hoping it’ll magically grow longer.


  16. Dutch braids for sure! The little poof makes necks look so nice….also you don’t have to as many braids since they’re a bit more spread out and need more mane. Less braids = less time = win.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. my leased mare has a super thin, super long mane that… well i kinda just pretend it’s not there haha. tho sometimes i wonder what i’d do with it if she were mine… maybe the scissor method?

    in any case, i vote for those dutch braids – they are adorable!!


  18. Yeah, I was going to say, you just have to use the scissors right. 😉 It works really really well with thin manes, reasonably well with thicker manes, and not at all with really thick manes that are coarse haired and stand straight up. IMO those horses should be roached or only shown in braids.

    I’m letting Courage’s mane be a bit longer and fuller for the show jumper/dressage look right now. It’s definitely something I have to adjust to looking at, but it’s an interesting change and I can always go back. 🙂


  19. Henry’s mane looks beautiful in that halfway there pic, I’ve never been able to make it look that nice with scissors but maybe I was always using too much of an angle. I usually use a clipper blade on the top few inches, which are thin, and then pull the middle, which can get pretty thick. I have a really hard time looking at a long mane too. I’m shooting for a mane that’s appropriate for dutch braids by the end of May. I thinned it to the point where it’s braidable a few weeks ago and I think I’m just going to let it grow between now and then. (cringing)


  20. Your eyeballs would bleed if you saw my boy with his wanna-be wild stallion mane… But I actually like it long and plan to wack it up in a running braid if we ever get back to the show ring. Mind you, we do dressage, and over in dressageland they don’t really care what kind of braid it is as long as it’s neat.

    bonita of A Riding Habit


  21. The method you describe is exactly how I do manes. Although I’ve had to get Mo worked through his head shy issues before I could begin working on it again, as anything ANYWHERE NEAR his head has been cause for panic until, oh, this morning. I finally got his mane cleaned up tonight. I couldn’t take it for one more second.

    Lex had (has) a thick mane and would kill you and your whole family if you tried to pull it. I drugged her once, but after that I just cut it the way you talk about and brushed the shit out of it to help thin it out. Fortunately, Mo and Red have thinner manes.


  22. Copper’s solution to having his mane pulled after winter for show season is to rub it all out on all the things so I will have to roach it. Not ideal, but it is low maintenance!


  23. Ha! This was a very entertaining post – love the Sadie captions! I use the thinning blade on Halo as he he’s got a thicker mane, I think the thinning blade on a thing mane can give it the ‘choppy’ look you speak of.


  24. I “pull” my TB’s mane the same way. He’s perfectly behaved for pulling (falls asleep usually, and actually spent one mane pull nuzzling my ass), but I can’t pull often because it gets too thin. So his gets scissored the same way every couple of months. I still am old school and can’t stand scissors around a mane, but this method makes it look decent and still braid-able.


  25. I haven’t touched Murray’s mane since October (or possibly earlier) and just started pulling it again yesterday. It’s rather the ordeal, but it’s far, far too thick for me to get away with anything else right now.

    I personally think Dutch braids are THE BEST and one hundred percent worth the nuisance of a longer mane!! How long will you have to get it? I managed to do almost-Dutch braids with Murray’s fairly short last year. No idea how many inches that was though.


      1. I mean, worst case scenario you give it a go, it’s not quite long enough, and then you trim a little and do buttons again. However, I think you’ll be about right by then!


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