How to Pull A Horse Mane

Courtnee Morton, DVM
By Courtnee Morton, DVM on Aug. 17, 2022
Jumping horse

Mane pulling is the act of pulling small amounts of hair out at a time to maintain a manageable, uniform-length mane. This is often done in show disciplines such as hunter and jumper, whereas reining and cutting horses’ manes are typically kept long and flowing. Some sports trend or require small, uniformed braids down the neck or a thinner, tidier mane.

Horse manes naturally grow long manes for protection, and mane pulling allows for a more natural look that can’t be acquired with scissors.

Tools For Mane Pulling

Mane pulling is typically best done after a workout, when the horse is still warm, and the pores of the skin are open. Here’s how to go about getting your horse’s mane look show-ready:

  1. Brush the mane free of knots, spritzing detangler lightly if needed.

  2. Start at either the withers or poll (near shoulders or behind ears) and grab a small section of hair.

  3. Gently tease out the shorter hairs until you have just a few of the longer hairs remaining. Most people consider 4-6 inches to be the “appropriate” show-length.

  4. Wrap these hairs around the comb a few times, then quickly pull either up or down to free the hairs. Some horses may prefer their mane to be pulled straight up, while others seem more comfortable with straight down or an angle in between.

  5. Repeat in small sections moving up or down the mane. It’s important not to grab too many hairs at once, as that can cause discomfort for your horse.

  6. Pulling the mane to achieve goal thickness and length should be done in several sessions over a week or two, to prevent your horse from getting uncomfortable, bored, or frustrated with the process.

  7. Always use positive reinforcement to help keep this a somewhat enjoyable experience. Offer cookies, praise, and take breaks periodically. 

Does Pulling a Horse’s Mane Hurt?

Mane pulling can be painful if you pull a large number of hairs simultaneously. Ways to make this as painless as possible include pulling the mane after a workout while the horse is still warm/sweaty and their pores are open, and only pulling a few hairs at a time.

What Side Do You Pull a Horse’s Mane?

Most western disciplines style or prefer the mane on the left side, and English disciplines on the right. While this isn’t always possible with unruly growth, you can encourage it to lay on and grow in one direction by using a wet comb or brush daily.

How Often Should You Pull a Horse’s Mane?

Once your horse’s mane is at the desired thickness and length, one maintenance mane-pulling session a week should keep it show- or braid-ready.

Featured Image:

Courtnee Morton, DVM


Courtnee Morton, DVM


Dr. Courtnee Morton is a 2017 Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine graduate. Since graduation, she completed an equine internship...

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