How to Brush the Mane of a Horse

Three Parts:Detangling the ManeBrushing and Cleaning Your Horse's ManeAltering the Horse's Mane

Whether you own a show horse or a riding horse, your pet will need regular grooming. Horses kept outdoors in a herd will only need to be groomed right before you go riding. If your horse is kept alone or in confinement it won't get any grooming from other horses, so you'll need to groom it on a daily basis.[1] Grooming usually entails brushing, but it also requires cleaning and combing. For some show horses, grooming the mane also entails braiding the hair in a decorative pattern.

Part 1
Detangling the Mane

  1. 1
    Apply a detangler. The first step in brushing or grooming a horse's mane is working out the tangles. In order to do this, you may need to use a detangling product, which you can purchase at many equine supply stores or through an online retailer.[2]
    • Mane conditioner or silicone cosmetic sprays are often helpful when it comes to detangling a horse's mane.
  2. 2
    Detangle the mane with your fingers. Before you comb or brush your horse's mane, be sure to work out as many tangles as possible using your hands. Take the time to work knots and burrs out of the mane with your hands.[3]
    • Never use a comb or brush until you've detangled the mane with your fingers first.
    • Hold the hair in one hand while you pick, comb, or brush with the other. This will help you pull less at the roots of the hair while working out knots and tangles.[4]
    • Use slow, smooth motions as you work out tangles. Yanking and jerking will cause your horse discomfort and may lead to breakage.
  3. 3
    Comb out loose hair and tangles. Once you've gotten the majority of tangles out with your hands, your horse's mane is ready to be combed. Use a comb that's specially designed for horse grooming, as a human's hair comb will have teeth too close together to adequately groom your horse's mane.[5]
    • Start at the bottom of the mane and work your way upward towards the top of your horse's head.
    • Go over the entire mane until you've removed all tangles, burrs, and loose hairs.

Part 2
Brushing and Cleaning Your Horse's Mane

  1. 1
    Choose the right tools. There are many different tools that can be used to groom a horse's mane. Brushes are used to work mud and debris out of your horse's hair, while combs can help pull out loose hair and work out tangles. When cleaning an already detangled mane, you'll most likely rely more on brushes.[6]
    • Use brushes with a range of bristle sizes. Brushes work loose particles of dirt that correlate to the diameter of each bristle, so use wider bristles for larger particles and thinner bristles for smaller ones.[7]
  2. 2
    Brush the hair. Brushes with medium- to very stiff bristles (like a dandy brush) work best for heavier patches of caked-on mud. Softer bristles work best at removing fine dust particles. They can also help distribute natural oils from the horse's skin, keeping the hair soft and silky.[8]
    • Apply enough pressure so that your brush loosens dead hair and dirt from close to the skin.
    • Use short, quick strokes and move the brush in the direction your horse's hair lies.
  3. 3
    Shampoo the mane. Part of a proper grooming regimen should involve cleaning your horse's mane. Use a shampoo designed for horses, which you can purchase at an equine supply store or through an online retailer. You should bathe your horse about once every week or two, but don't bathe your horse more than once a week to avoid drying out its coat.[9] Shampoo should be applied to the mane about once each month.[10]
    • Focus on shampooing the roots of the mane rather than scrubbing the ends of the horse's hair. Shampooing the outer layers of the mane can lead to weak, dried out hair.[11]
    • Make sure you thoroughly rinse out all the shampoo suds from your horse's mane, including deep down at the roots. Leaving suds behind will make your horse's coat itchy and it may rub until bald patches form.[12]
  4. 4
    Use conditioner. Conditioner helps keep your horse's mane soft and easy to detangle. Using the right conditioner will make it easier to brush out the mane when you groom your horse. Leave-in conditioners work best at preventing your horse's hair from drying out, though rinse-out conditioners can also help your horse's mane.[13] Condition your horse's mane every time you shampoo it, which should be about once each month.[14]
    • Mix two parts conditioner and one part detangler.
    • Apply the conditioner to the outer and middle layers of the mane without going all the way to the roots. Too much conditioner at the roots can cause more dust and dirt to get clumped in and form tangles.
    • Comb the conditioner through the mane.
    • If you're using a rinse-out conditioner, be sure to leave it in for several minutes to absorb before rinsing out the mane.

Part 3
Altering the Horse's Mane

  1. 1
    Thin out a thick mane. A thick mane is more likely to get tangled and trap dirt, making brushing and braiding difficult. The mane should be a uniform thickness that lies between four and six inches (10 to 15 centimeters) in length and lies flat against the neck.[15]
    • Some horse manes can be thinned just by using a metal mane comb. However, this depends on the length and thickness of your horse's hair.
    • Long, loose hairs can be pulled by hand up the crest of the neck. However, this can get uncomfortable on your hands and may take a lot of time.
    • The remaining hairs can be combed back down towards the horse.
    • Make sure you work with an experienced groomer who knows how to pull mane hairs. Pulling hair is painful if done improperly, but when done correctly it should not hurt your horse.[16]
  2. 2
    Shorten the mane as needed. A shorter mane reduces the risk of tangles and allows your horse's mane to lay over more evenly. You can use standard scissors, hair clippers, or thinning shears to shorten your horse's mane. Choose a tool that works best with your comfort level.[17]
    • If you're not familiar or comfortable with cutting a horse's hair, you may want to work with a groomer.
    • Search online and read customer reviews to find a reliable groomer near you.
  3. 3
    Braid the mane. When you braid your horse's mane, you'll need to be aware of how wide each braid is. The hair closest to the withers (the ridge between the shoulders) gets stretched the most when a horse bends and stretches, so you'll want to make those braids the narrowest. Braids further up the mane can be made a little wider.[18] There are many different ways to braid a horse's mane.[19] Some of the most common include:
    • Hunter braid - involves weaving yarn into each individual braid, then tying each braid to itself using the yarn.[20]
    • Running braid - resembles a French braid and requires a longer mane length. This braid comes undone somewhat easily, so it should be braided just before a class or competition.
    • Continental braid - requires a very long mane length. It involves banding the mane and then banding each individual section together until the whole mane resembles a net with loose ends.


  • Know your horse's hair and get a brush to fit it.
  • You can use these mane brushing steps to brush a horse's tail as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Brush and comb
  • Horse detangler
  • Horse shampoo and conditioner
  • Tools to trim your horse's mane

Article Info

Categories: Horses | Horse Care