Monday, April 9, 2007

The Mane Event

Seems me and my horse have something in common: naturally thick hair. At the farm where she lives the horses that are ridden English have their manes pulled or cut to between 4 and 5 inches, ostensibly to keep them above the rein line. Because Missy’s mane is so thick, having it this short causes some problems (in my view). First, I think it looks terrible, all choppy and uneven. Second, you can brush it all you want but the moment she shakes her head it naturally parts half-way down her neck, the upper part laying on the left and the bottom part laying on the right. Did I mention I think it looks terrible? I kept meaning to tell my trainer not to pull it again, so last week when I went down and saw that it had been pulled, I finally told her that I wanted her to leave it alone so I could see what it looked like a little bit longer, maybe it would all sit on the right like it’s supposed to that way. After an awkward moment of silence during which she physically stiffened, she said quietly, but with emphasis, “English horses don’t have long manes!” As I was walking away with Miss I said over my shoulder, with good humor, but with emphasis, “Well, she’s not an English horse, she’s MY horse, and for now we’re going to leave her mane alone.” She followed me for a bit, explaining that you don’t want the mane long enough to get caught up in the reins, blah blah, but I stuck to my guns. During my next lesson she said she would show me how to thin it out so it would sit better on her neck. I don’t want it to look like my friend old Walter here, I just want it to look natural.

At least my farm doesn’t crop the tails! As you can see she has a beautiful tail (does this horse make my butt look big?). For those less fortunate horses there are always tail extensions. You can also get mane and forelock extensions, but in general those look very fake, even to my untrained eye.

Two weekends ago I went with the lovely Coloratura to the first hunter/jumper show at Pebble Beach and was very pleased and surprised to see all age categories represented, from kids on adorable ponies to women over 50 in the jumper and equitation classes. I suppose there’s time for me to compete yet, should I decide to go that route.

As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend I went to the Grand National Rodeo and boy howdy, what a different crowd that was from Pebble Beach! The thing I love about Western folks is they aren’t afraid to wear all the regalia and they don’t feel the least bit ridiculous doing so. There were some pretty damn hot cowboys there; too bad I’m not single and about 20 years younger! I almost bought a pair of Ariat cowboy boots and now I’m kicking myself for not getting them, they were so beautiful and comfortable.

The “mane event” of the title (sorry, couldn’t resist) happened on Good Friday: my trainer Willow actually got on Missy’s back. She had told me before that Miss hadn’t been ridden in about a year and a half, but she looked back in her notes and now says its closer to 3 years. She’s been lunging her with all her tack on for several weeks. She lunged her and she seemed fairly quiet so she put her helmet on (something she rarely does) and quietly got on. Miss just stood there like it had happened yesterday, then walked and trotted as asked. She does throw her head around a fair bit so we may have to put a martingale on her for a while, but overall both Willow and I were very pleased. Mama’s so proud! When I took her in January we talked about me being able to ride her by about May. Looks like we’re right on track.


  1. Wow! Missy with a rider. I am so impressed. You should be a proud mama. She's fluorishing.

    Interesting about the mane. I didn't realize the need behind it. I agree; natural is so pretty.

  2. I'm sorry I'm still snickering away about tail extensions, are we as a race really so vain? I understand the cutting the mane thing my Beau had to have her mane cut short (polocross not show) have you thought about braiding? it's a nice halfway point you get to keep the pretty mane and Willow gets to see a hair free neck.

    Thrilled to hear Missy behaved so beautifully wont be long and you'll be up and riding her all over the place.

  3. My horse has a funky part if it gets short. It flops on both sides, but it looks so stringy when long. So I just leave it alone. One of these days, I will have to take the time to braid it.

    By the way, Missys tail is gorgeous. Baby got back!

  4. Hmm, well I've never seen a trimmed mane on english horses in england. If they are messy, you plait them, you don't cut them. I think you did the right thing.

  5. Hi Donna, thanks so much for your comments on my blog recently, they are greatly appreciated. I am starting to try to get my visits and comments up to date.

    I LOVE long natural manes. In the paint horses the Tobiano pattern tend to have heavier necks and thick manes and I love it. My husband wants to trim them all the time but we arent showing them so I like to leave them. Dosie (the older stud) has a mane that goes equally each side of his neck, like a parting down the centre with a beautiful mane both sides so whichever way you look at him it looks as if it is his mane side and because it is so thick he can get away with it. My filly Lori (my husband's idea to name her after me!!) is also Tobiano so she has the usual thick mane but even though it is, it still flops over to the other side on the bottom third of it. Cat another Tobiano black and white has most of her thick mane going one way except the very bottom bit near her withers.

    I realise if you are showing it is better for neatness etc. but I have never heard of it interfering with the reins? That seems to be a bit of overkill to me LOL.

    So basically I like au-naturale (sp!). I agree with Thalia in both South Africa and England, they plait the manes for show purposes so it doesnt matter if they arent neat and tidy.

    I am glad Missy is doing so well. You must be very excited to be so near to riding her yourself. Good luck.


  6. My old appaloosa had such a stingy tail that he was the "butt" of many jokes. He stayed pretty supple because of it, though, since he had to bend and bite at the flies.
    Learn how to French Braid Missy's mane and both you and Willow will be happy.
    photogchic is right. Your baby got a lovely, um, tail.

  7. That's great news about a rider on Miss! She's beautiful, and I'm glad she seems to be on the mend and improving.

  8. wow, won't be much longer now before you'll be riding her... that's great!

    and you tell them to leave her beautiful mane alone... as I'm sure you will... hehehe!

  9. Most western riding doesn't require a short mane with probably the western pleasure classes (unsure) as the exception. And I have seen most English ridden horses with the mane braided. I like 'em natural too!

  10. Glad to hear Missy is doing so well! Also glad you told them to keep their mitts of her mane. I will never understand why people get so huffy about that. They are naturally beautiful why can't that be ok?

  11. You should have gotten the boots....I have several western boots, that's all I wear....different colors and styles for everyday to formal western boots as well..even sweat pants look better with western boots! hehehe

  12. I'm so glad that you and Missy are on track and that you'll be able to ride her next month. You'll both look beautiful with your long manes blowin' in the wind!

  13. How exciting that Missy carried a rider with ease! It won't be long now.

    And speaking of long - I agree with others that you should let the mane go. All of my horses have long manes, but I do trim the bridle path. In fact I've been known to bring my cordless razor and trim our friends horses at shows as well!