Why Do Horses Have Manes and How to Care for Them?

The mane of a horse is more than just hair. These shiny and smooth tangles are the prime physical attributes of a horse.

But the thick and long mane of the horse not only makes the creature attractive, but it also serves many other purposes, from protecting the horse to keeping it warm on a cold day. 

Undoubtedly, taking care of long manes and tails is a tough job. These locks of love need proper nutrition and a daily care regime to look the best. It not only makes a horse look healthy but also feels fit.

Why Do Horses Have Manes? An Evolutionary Perspective 

Horse manes are a secondary sexual characteristic that defines the beauty of the horse. The male horses have thicker mane hair than females to help differentiate them. The sleek mane has many other functions as well including improving the horse’s balance and grip, hence helping in its survival.

However, the purpose of a horse mane in a wild horse is slightly different than that of a domestic horse.

The mane plays an important role in the survival of horses inhabiting the wild terrain. Wild animals like zebras are more likely to be involved in fights and get injured.

The thick mane comes to the rescue by protecting their neck. Besides this, it helps in keeping flies away from their faces and preventing itchy bites. Of course, there are home remedies to avoid flies from bothering your horse. But they aren’t a viable solution for wild animals.

The unnaturally thick manes in domestic horses are due to a genetic defect called hypertrichosis. The horse manes are usually groomed and styled to make them presentable enough to be eye candy.

Also, they help give grip to the saddles and stirrups.

Sometimes the horse mane is shaved off completely to prevent the tangling of hair. It is mostly done in the cases of police horses or for those participating in sports.

Selective Breeding Produces Long Horse Manes

Have you ever wondered, why do some horses have short manes? Horses are wild animals and all horse manes were short previously. The horse manes were vertical and would stand upright on their neck. 

For reference, we can see the Przewalski horse that is the only wild species alive today with short manes. 

Over 5,000 years ago, these wild animals were domesticated. Today, they are bred to have longer manes. When breeding, more “desirable” features are pushed forward in the gene pool. Producing long manes makes horses attractive, making their owners feel pride in showing them off.

Moreover, longer manes also improve the functioning capability of the horse by improving its grip and balance. Undoubtedly, those rich manes catch our attention, and we can not resist admiring their beauty.  

How To Care For Horse Manes? 

Horsehair needs all the love plus care one can give. They are very delicate and fragile when it comes to taking care of them. 

Following a proper routine is essential to care for the proper maintenance of long manes and tails.

Though all horses need similar management, it somewhat differs because of the different hair types among them. From a proper nutritious diet to physical care, everything has its own importance. 

First, you need to follow a proper bathing routine with shampoo and conditioner specified for horse use. Mostly, the vets suggest a shampoo with high-end ingredients to suit the needs and hair type. A proper bath keeps your horse mane clean from dirt and debris, while also preventing skin infections.   

In addition, various grooming tools (or a complete kit like these) need to be used, albeit after sanitizing every tool. Brushes and combs are essential tools for detangling hair. Disinfecting them beforehand protects the horse from skin itch or other diseases.  

Nevertheless, never over-comb your horse mane. Instead, use your fingers to detangle their locks. You may also use a white winger to remove stains if your horse has light-colored hair. 

Likewise, nourishing your horse is also crucial to support healthy hair growth. Multivitamin supplement not only makes the horse healthy but also promotes a nourished mane. It provides all those vitamins and minerals missing in their diet. 

A pro tip for all horse lovers is to give extra care to the end of the mane. It is because they are more brittle and prone to damage. They might break or thin down as a result of over-negligence.

Should You Braid Your Horse’s Mane? 

Many people seem curious to know if you should braid your horse’s mane.  Various occasions call for the horse mane to be braided from dressing competitions to hunting or jumping games. 

On the other hand, riding events or race competitions prefer the horse manes to be left untouched. These long hairs give the horse a more natural look and increase its beauty. 

Though it seems complex to put braids in the horse manes, numerous Youtube tutorials are there to help you out. Moreover, there are various styles to braid the horse mane to dress them up and gather attention. 

Due to the increased popularity of braided horse mane, there are different types of braids to be chosen. You may go for Button Braids, Continental or Macrame Braids, Scalloped Braids, or even Hunter Braids, and the list goes on. 

Why And How To Make A Bridle Path? 

Bridle paths are necessary to ensure your horse manes remain detangled from the headgear. It is a shaved spot almost one inch behind the ears of the horse. Western and English riders both prefer the standard size.

A perfectly trimmed bridle path makes a horse look presentable and helps fit the bridle crown piece. The horse remains comfortable with a reduced possibility of pulling the hair when you halter the horse. 

Furthermore, it also helps in specifying certain breeds and accentuating their necks. 

Making a bridle path is not a tough job. You need to shave the hair shorter than its ear or as long as the width of your hand. 

In addition, the hair needs to be trimmed short because it may cause a hurdle in where the bit sits in the mouth of the horse. 

FAQs Regarding Why Horses Have Manes 

There are numerous questions regarding the mane of the horse. The queries are either out of curiosity or due to interest in horsehair. Hopefully, this section will help to answer some of the common ones.

What is the purpose of the mane on a horse?

As specified earlier in this article, the mane of a horse serves various functions. 
It protects the neck from getting hurt or bitten during a fight. It also helps in swatting off insects that may irritate the horse or irritate the skin. 
Moreover, the horse mane acts as an insulator during cold weather by keeping your horse warm and comfortable. Also, it allows the rainwater to run off in case the horse was unable to find proper shelter. 
Lastly, it proves to be beneficial for humans too. It not only appeals to one’s aesthetic sense but also helps grasp the attention of admirers. The hair provides a better grip to tie a saddle onto the horse’s back.

How do you take care of a horse mane?

You need to follow a proper care routine if you are in charge of a horse’s health. The horse does not only need to be physically fit but also look fresh and strong. 
The beautiful horse mane is the center of attention and should look like one. 
The thick, long mane hair is susceptible to tangling and needs care. Wide-toothed combs, detangling brushes, horse shampoo, and conditioner are some of the necessities for the maintenance of mane. 
To maintain the lustrous shine, a deep bath is very important, along with massaging essential oils in the end. 
You are more likely to ignore the ends of the mane of a horse, but they need extra attention. Try finger combing them daily and putting them in braids if required.

Is it OK to cut a horse’s mane?

Previously, all the horses had a short mane, so it is not that big of a problem to cut a horse’s mane. 
In fact, some activities and events do require you to cut or trim the horse mane. For instance, a police horse or the one involved in professional riding is more likely to get its hair stuck somewhere. So, it is better to keep them short to prevent such mishaps. 
Nevertheless, if not required, try avoiding trimming the length of the mane as it causes them to bush out. Rather than appearing as a sleek horse mane, it will give out the look of a mane-hawk.

Do horses feel pain in their mane?

Most people believe that horsehair follicles do not contain sensory receptors as we do. Unquestionably, it is a myth that needs to be burst. 
Horses do have nerves and do feel pain when you pull their mane. It not only irritates them but also causes severe discomfort.

How fast does horse mane grow?

Definitely, the growth of mane depends on various factors. On average, the hair in the mane grows somewhere between 0.5 – 1.5 inches a month, depending on the breed of the horse. For example, draft and cobs horses are more likely to grow mane hair faster and thicker. 
Furthermore, using hair growth shampoo, conditioner, essential oils, and supplementing the diet with multivitamins can also influence the horse’s mane growth. Brushing daily increases blood circulation and hence makes your horse more likely to grow its hair faster.

Do horse manes keep growing?

As stated in the question above, the horse’s mane grows only a certain number of inches every month. It may even grow down to their knees. If you use a horse such as Cavalia for display purposes, you might prefer long horse manes.
Nevertheless, you can maintain the length of the mane by grooming and trimming its hair to the neck. If you shave off the horse mane completely, it takes around nine months to grow back.
Though the horse’s mane keeps growing, its length is limited to a certain extent. This is because of the lack of care and daily wear and tear.

Why are horse’s manes on the right?

Despite not being written anywhere, it is a thumb rule that the horse’s mane always lays back on the right side. Suggestively, letting it lie on a single side helps in deciding the handedness of the horse.
If a horse has its mane on the right, all its activities will be on the right side. It helps improve the chances of understanding a horse and training it better.

Why do horses have tails?

The function of the horsetail is to ward off the flies. Before the manes come into action, the swinging motion of the tail keeps away all those insects. 
Furthermore, the movement and position of the tail help in judging whether the horse is comfortable or scared in a specific environment. 
Similar to the manes, the tail also requires utmost care. The hair of the horse is groomed to make the horse look attractive.

Providing good food and taking care of the physical needs of a horse is not enough.  Equal care and attention are required for the upkeep and maintenance of the mane and tail of the horse, to keep it attractive.

This article has compiled all the information about the importance of horse mane for aesthetic and practical purposes, which will help all the horse owners in taking care of the long manes and tails of their four-legged friends.