Tips for Growing and Maintaining a Long Mane

The last few years I have been showing APHA All Around with my gelding, Struttin My Assets, aka “Charlie”, to the tune of multiple World and Reserve World championships, Year End Awards, High Points and many wins. As most of you know, Charlie is not your average All Around horse however; he’s got his own personal trademark. He has a long, white mane that reaches his knees! Every show I travel to, I have at least one or two people who come up just to touch it and ask me how I got it so long. I know of several people who have decided to grow out their horse’s manes after seeing my success with it.

Though long manes are still not the norm in the stock breed show rings, it is gaining in popularity to show a horse with a long mane in the Western Pleasure or even the All Around for a select few. If a horse has the right neck and movement for it, it can really accentuate your horse and make you stand out in the pen. After my success with Charlie, my 3yo Ella also has a long mane. Given how many people have asked me my secret for growing a long, healthy mane, I decided to share my process with everyone.
Thanks to Mr. Long Mane, I have become a pretty solid expert on equine hair care products and what works and what doesn't. I had a pretty good system; it worked on Charlie's mane and I was content. Granted it was a mix and match of like 20 different products and such an involved system I didn't let anyone else do it. But everyone had been telling me for a while to try EquiFUSE. I kept saying nah my system works and I was skeptical of these supposed "miracle products". Finally I was able to get some test samples of the EquiFUSE products and after trying them on Charlie, I was HOOKED. The EquiFUSE products are HEALTHY, NATURAL and they WORK! I love that instead of stripping the hair to clean it, it hydrates it and makes it healthier. The products are very natural, not full of harsh chemicals and fillers. The best part is they work so well. Charlie is clean and stays clean for days. The last horse show I went to was Thursday-Sunday. I gave him a bath Monday night and didn't bathe him all weekend. That's almost a full week without a bathe and he still gleamed in the show pen and people (judges included) complimented how good he looked. The less bathing at horse shows with this white horse the better. So I am completely sold on the EquiFUSE line.

Below you will find my step by step system for successfully growing and maintaining a world champion worthy long mane from the nutrition to the best products and everything in between.

1.    Start with a good diet. This is the base for a healthy horse and a healthy mane. Good hay and good nutrient rich grain are the basis. I also keep Charlie on a supplement for his hair coat, SmartShine from SmartPak. I think this helps all his hair grow healthy and shiny, including his mane. Since he has been on that supplement, his mane has been even better.
2.      Bath Regularly but not too often. I bath sparingly to help the hair retain moisture. The more you wash, the more you strip the hair of its natural oils. I wash my horse’s manes about once every 2-3 weeks. If they seem to get dirty and the braids are getting ratty quicker then I adjust the timeline, likewise if they seem to be lasting longer. I adjust this during the summer months to allow for cleaning after outside turnout or the baths for horse shows that are more frequent. Also, if they are wearing a sleazy, hood or neck cover a bit more often because the neck ware will cause rubbing and if you are not careful, it will rub hair out.
3.      Bath time: I suggest if you have access, use warm water. This is better for the hair and will help to open the hair follicle and get the shampoo in there for maximum cleaning and allow the moisture to seep in deeply. Also, a safe wash area is a must: a good, safe tie and a strong place to tie your horse. Tie them high enough so they cannot step over the rope and make sure it is tight enough that they can’t reach their heads all the way around or put their nose on the ground. I encourage rubber mats to avoid horse’s hooves slipping especially when they are shod. Keep buckets, bottles, brushes, hoses and anything else in your wash area away from the horse’s hooves to limit problems and accidents.

4.      EquiFUSEProducts: Here is the list of products in order of use during the bath.
-          CFS™ Concentrate + Paste Shampoo: This concentrated shampoo is awesome. It is easy to use, you only need a little bit and it gets them SO clean. I use the bucket of water method: I put a small spoonful in an empty, clean bucket and add about a gallon of warm water and then use that on my brush and scrub them all over and then rinse out. I use the Groom Net and the medium firm scrub brush to apply this and use it all over the horse and on light colored hooves if needed.
-          Citrafoam Sulfate Free + Foaming Shampoo:  This is great on their manes and tails as well as extra dirty spots and poop/yellow stains. It gets foamy and you can see the cleaning happening before your eyes. It also smells great which is a huge bonus in my opinion. You can do the bucket method if you are covering a lot of horse or a little dime sized dollop in your hand for a mane or tail. A little goes a long way. Rub into the mane and tail and scrub with your fingers at the crest of the neck and/or the tailbone to get rid of the dead skin and add moisture to the roots. Work into a strong, foamy lather before rinsing. For an extra dirty spot, leave sit for a moment.

-          Citracreme Deep Conditioner + Rehydrant : This conditioner is so good! Put a liberal amount in the mane and tail, leave it sit for 2-3 minutes and rinse out. Give specific attention of the conditioner to the ends. Your manes and tails will feel so healthy and soft and the shine is incredible. Also a refreshing, lasting fruit smell to make all your friends jealous of your fresh smelling horse.  
-          Rehydrinse Coat Protector + Conditioner: The last bathing step and the easiest. Using your clean bucket, add a small amount of Rehydrinse and add a gallon of water and sponge all over the clean horse. Do not rinse it out, just sweat scrape and you’re done. This is a conditioner for the whole coat and it repels dirt and stains (which is how I kept Charlie clean for a week at a horse show with no bathes). 
-          Gleam Moisturizer + Shine Serum: This is the mother of all detanglers. This will make combing out a breeze without the slimy, sticky aftermath. Put a small amount in your hands and work through the mane and tail. You will notice the softness and shine added to the hair and no residue on your hands and brushing will be unnecessary for days. I use while wet and after drying as well as for any brushing needed. This stuff is awesome and smells SO good. 
-          The Groom Net: This little net is an awesome body scrubber. It is gentle on their skin and muscles but gets the dirt out and is easy to clean and dries quickly (and takes up almost no space in a bucket or grooming bag). It's the small green ball in the photo.
-          I also use a regular medium firm scrub brush to scrub legs and hocks. I have another stiffer scrub brush for dirty hooves.

5.      Side note: This EquiFUSE system is also fantastic for fake tails. It really adds the moisture back into the hair and keeps them shiny to match the real tail. Gleam is a LIFESAVER for my fake tails.

6.      After washing, let it dry about halfway before brushing. This is when I apply Gleam as needed. Brush starting from the bottom working your way up to the roots in small sections. Avoid pulling and ripping on the hair as much as possible. Some hair will fall out, this is inevitable but limit it as much as you can but using Gleam as needed, the Oster brush, small sections, starting at the ends and brush as softly and slowly as you can. Taking the extra time brushing will save the mane in the long run. I am a fan of the Oster Mane andTail brush; it is the best for manes and tails in my opinion.

7.      Braid in semi-thick, two inch sections. Braid tightly so the braids stay in and the hair stays untangled. Braid down as far as possible. Tie off with a rubber band, but don’t tighten it as many times as you can, semi-tight is plenty good.
8.      For the 2-3 weeks before the next bath, I spray a concoction called Happy Hair (my own personal creative nameJ) about every other day to keep the hydration up and the tangles minimum. This is a mix of Rehydrinse, CitraCreme Conditioner and Gleam in the mane. (I do not use a specific recipe, I basically do one capful of CitraCreme, a squeeze of Rehydrinse and a dash of Gleam and add warm water to dilute in a spray bottle).

9.      Be careful with hoods and sleazys. Always make sure the hair is sleek and straight in the sleazys and hoods, and don’t leave on for extended periods of time. Make sure you take them off once a day to check the mane and make sure it is not bunched up and ratty.
10.  In between classes at shows when the mane doesn’t need to be down, I put it in a loose running braid down their neck to keep it under control and untangled. A running braid is a bit like a French braid, where the braid is against the crest of the neck.

Products list: SmartShine, EquiFUSE product line, Oster Mane and Tail brush, and rubber bands.

There is my secret procedure! I hope this helps some people out in growing their horse’s manes, and I expect to see more and more beautiful long manes around the show rings. I know I will always have one or two in my barn! Just remember, not every horse has the genetics or neck to grow a long mane, so use your best judgment.

As I said, I am sold on EquiFUSE. It is the only bathing items left in my tack room now, I threw the rest away! It is easy, cost effective, healthy, smells great, natural and it WORKS! Switch to EquiFUSE  for all your horses but especially the long manes and you will not be sorry. For more info on my EquiFUSE process, see my blog post regarding it. 

 If you have any questions, please let me know. For more information and to order, I put the links to the EquiFUSE website, Facebook and my Supplier, Glowing Results by Amber Dunmire. 

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