From Ordinary to Extraordinary

by Staff Writer

Each horse’s mane and tail bear unique significance, fulfilling essential roles. A mane offers warmth to the neck during chilly weather and deters flies. Conversely, a tail serves as a tool for insect control, swatting away pesky insects, and even conveys emotions. Picture an Arabian horse gliding across a field, tail held high in the thrill of a gallop, or an irate horse signaling others to keep their distance through tail swishing. While aesthetics might not equate to a direct function, an appealing mane and tail contribute to your horse’s overall allure.

So, how can you foster the growth of a resplendent, full mane and tail? Recognize that genetics play a part. Breeds like Morgans, Friesians, and certain draft crosses boast voluminous manes and tails. Conversely, breeds like Appaloosas and donkeys tend to showcase sparser manes and tails. However, consider these pointers that could aid in cultivating a robust, lush mane and tail:

Prioritize a Nutrient-Rich Diet

Ensure your horse consumes a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet. While hair growth ranks lower in priority compared to maintaining strong muscles, tendons, and ligaments, your horse still requires adequate nutrients to support overall health, including hair vitality.

However, exercise caution when providing “sufficient” nutrients; an excess of certain elements can prove detrimental. If your horse’s mane and tail are exceptionally brittle, prone to frequent breakage, examine the diet for excess selenium. Too much selenium can lead to mild, persistent toxicity, with initial signs often manifesting as hair breakage (alongside potential effects on hooves and bones).

Account for Weather Exposure

Excessive sun exposure can render mane and tail hair brittle. Adjust pasture durations and timings to minimize sun exposure, particularly during sweltering, arid conditions.

Monitor for Parasites

Parasites, like lice and pinworms, might incite rubbing, causing hair to break or detach. Stay vigilant for signs of parasites, clean the tail dock area meticulously, and conduct periodic fecal exams to detect any infestations promptly.

Assess Behavioral Patterns

Pasture companions might engage in tail or mane chewing out of boredom. Some believe that insufficient dietary fiber, such as long-stem hay, could drive tail chewing behavior. While the exact cause remains uncertain, this behavior is frequently observed in foals. Provide companionship and diversions, and consider using a chew deterrent spray on the areas prone to chewing.

Explore Detangling Solutions

Caringly groom the mane and tail to maintain their condition. Many recommend gently untangling knots with fingers and a dab of detangler. Alternatively, opt for a spray-on detangler, allowing it to soak before softly combing through. Combs are generally favored over brushes, and it’s wise to comb from the bottom upwards in sections. For burrs entangled in the hair, a loosening spray can facilitate their removal, preventing undue hair loss.

Nevertheless, exercise caution with grooming products. Some products can desiccate mane and tail hairs, rendering them brittle and vulnerable to breakage. When selecting shampoos, conditioners, and detanglers, verify their moisturizing attributes and ingredients before purchasing.

Avoid Excessive Braiding

Refrain from tightly braiding hair and leaving braids intact continually. Tight braids can hinder blood circulation to hair shafts, leading to breakage. Loosely braid long manes and tails to avert pasture damage, and remove show braids post-events.

The allure of flowing manes and tails adds to a horse’s splendor. Invest extra time and care to maintain your horse’s locks in exceptional condition.