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From wispy haired Appaloosa’s to full-bodied Friesian’s, good care is essential to keep your horses luscious locks shiny and healthy.
But with so many different tools and magic formulas on the market it can be tricky to know how to maintain your horses mane and tail.
It is helpful to understand that mane/tail length and thickness is entirely based on each horse’s genetics. There is no product that can make their locks grow more than genetics dictates.
Each strand of hair has three stages to its lifecycle. The first is the growth phase, which is usually between two and seven years dependent on genetics. This is where optimal nutrition ensures growing hair is of the best quality.
The ‘resting’ phase follows, lasting a few weeks. New hair starts to grow in the follicle. Lastly, the hair falls out and is replaced by a new strand.
A healthy mane and tail starts on the inside with your horse’s diet. Nutrients that are essential for healthy hair include the trace minerals copper, iodine and zinc; omega fatty acids; biotin; and the amino acids lysine and methionine.
A consultation with a vet or equine nutritionist can help you determine what supplementation your horse will benefit from for healthy hair.
Beyond nutrition you can maintain a healthy mane and tail by keeping them knot free and avoiding hair breakage as each strand takes a long time to grow back.
Ideally you should spend a few minutes each day using your fingers to gently work out any knots, before combing through with a wide toothed detangling comb. If necessary, hair oil can aid in removing large knots.
Always start at the bottom of the mane or tail, working your way slowly up to the roots. Avoid combing through wet hair as this causes the hair to snap much more easily.
A good way to keep a long mane or tail tangle free and clean while avoiding daily grooming is to loosely plait it. Take a section of mane about 3cm wide and begin the plait very loosely, tightening it as you get away from the roots.
For the tail, start the plait loosely from a few centimetres below the end of the dock. Horses use their tails to swat away flys and bugs so you should leave the top third of the tail out of the plait if this is a problem.
Choose a shampoo made from natural ingredients as anything containing a lot of sulphate will strip the hair of its natural oils. Natural ingredients like coconut oil will hydrate the hair instead. And it doesn’t have to be horse shampoo, whatever you use in the shower is fine!
When washing focus on the base of the mane and tail as the massaging encourages blood flow to the roots of the hair. Most of the oil and dirt trapped in the mane will be on the underside so flip the mane to the other side of the neck to wash it thoroughly.
Follow up with a natural conditioner. Be careful to rinse the products out completely as any remaining in the hair will easily attract dirt.
You can then apply a leave in product to replace any natural oils stripped out during washing. Avoid silicone based products as these will make the hair brittle and prone to breaking. As with your own hair, both argan and coconut oil are good options.
Taking good care of your horses mane and tail may take a little bit of extra time and work but you will not regret it when you see your horse with his shiny, strong and healthy hair!