How to protect your horse’s mane in winter
In the winter months, you want your horse to be warm, but their cosy rugs have a significant downside. Rugs with neck covers can rub your horse’s mane, removing all or part of it. Here’s how you can look after your horse’s mane while keeping them warm in the cold weather.
Ensure that rugs fit correctly
Your horse’s rug may be rubbing because it doesn’t fit correctly. A rug which is too loose will move and can slip while a rug which is too small will constrict your horse’s movement. Either way, the poor fit will cause rubbing around the mane. If you are unsure as to whether you have achieved a good fit, seek expert advice.
Wash the mane regularly
Dirty neck covers are a common cause of rubbing. Dirt and grease from the mane transfers to the cover and then rubs back onto the mane. This makes the hair sticky and it is then pulled out when your horse moves his head.
It is best to keep your horse’s mane as clean as possible and so it should be washed frequently in winter. If it is too cold to give your horse a proper wash, brush their mane using a small amount of shampoo to keep the grease to a minimum. You could also find that placing a duvet under your rug is better than using a neck cover. If you do use a cover, choose a rug with a detachable neck so that it can easily be removed and washed.
Is your horse clipped?
If your horse hasn’t been clipped, they may not need a neck cover at all. If you still want to provide some protection in the coldest conditions, choose a neck without fill for unclipped horses and remove this at night.
Plait longer manes
Longer manes can be protected by plaiting them. Use individual plaits as while these can look a little strange, they do prevent the mane from being rubbed away. However, plaiting take’s time and may not be a practical choice when you are busy.
Experiment with your rugs
If your horse is clipped but its mane isn’t long enough to plait, you could find that simply changing the you use will help reduce rubbing. Riders disagree about which brand of rug is best for manes and so you might have to try a few to find the one which best suits your horse. This could be a costly exercise and so you should try to borrow rugs until you have identified the perfect style. Most equestrians agree that lighter rugs cause less damage and it is worth combining a lightweight neck cover with a heavier rug if your horse needs the protection of a heavy fill.
If all else fails, try spraying your horse’s mane with detangler when he needs to wear a rug with a neck. Many riders also swear by coconut oil. This can be applied to the affected area of the mane to prevent rubbing and promote regrowth.
It can be distressing when your horse’s mane is rubbed away but a little trial and error should reveal a solution. That solution will vary according to the unique characteristics of each horse and their lifestyle.