Like curly horse body coats, curly horse manes come in many different variations. In this article, I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss the types of curly horse manes and best practices for caring for them. Much of the look of a mane comes down to genetics, however good grooming practices and a few of my recommended products can help your curly grow a thicker, longer mane.
After completely rubbing out his mane in the summer, this photo shows a Bashkir curly mane growth just after Christmas, after 7 months of using MTG several times a week. For years, I have tested about a dozen different horse care products (including vitamins and feed supplements) that claimed to help mane and tails grow faster and thicker, but none ever really worked except Shapely’s MTG. It’s oily, it’s kind of hard to apply, and it leaves a visible residue on mains and tails BUT when applied consistently, it really does work to grow thicker stronger mane and tail hairs. One trick when using MTG is to swap out a different bottle for the manufacturer’s packaging. Manufactures profit when product is used wastefully, so pouring out half a bottle of MTG into a comb-style applicator bottle (like human beauty salons use to apply dye) can save money, use less product, and make sure the solution ends up where it’s supposed to be at the roots of the hair at the crest of the mane.
Once a Curly horses mane is grown in, a thick, running braid can be a helpful way to keep wild manes in check during training, conditioning, or for shows. Check out our article on running braid’s For a DIY. The photo above shows a white bashkir curly mane braided up into an inside-out running braid. This braid is accomplished by french braiding the mane, but braiding sections by plaiting them under instead of over. The braided section “pops” out this way.
Many bashkir curlies shed out their mane and tail year-round and every spring, but just as many curlies keep their mane and tail- but have “delicate” hair. Because of the tangly nature of curly hair, curly horses adapted to living in the wild and rather than be snagged by a corded mane, the follicles developed very “loose”. Because of this, typical scratching that wouldn’t disturb most horses’ mane, can leave a curly mane looking roached! The best way to prevent this is to use an antifungal spray or shampoo on the mane occasionally to prevent irritating fungus/dirt/pests before they cause itching, and to use solid or electric fencing. (Reaching through post and rail or pipe fencing is the most common way a curly will rub their mane out- electric fence or mesh-type fencing that cannot be breached prevents this problem.)
Some curlies form their mane into thin coils, others into thick dreadlocks. This horse’s mane was roached, and when the mane grew back it naturally fell into thick dreadlocks. Trying to completely comb out a mane like this typically results in frizz and instant tangles, although leaving the main braided can help. Dreadlocks on the horses often contain a lot of dead hair, it is recommended to trim them using thinning shears once or twice a year in order to encourage healthy mane growth and minimize potential fungal issues. When you noticed that the bottom section of the dreadlocked is significantly wider than the portion closest to the crest of the neck, it’s time to groom the dreadlocks.
This photo shows the characteristic curly mane of a bashkir Curly. Some curlies shed their tightly curled manes, others have long dreadlocked manes. This curly horse’s mane is somewhere between the two.
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