Riding out in a pasture to gather cattle is one thing; showing in an arena is another.

mane maintenance
Smart And Shiney is famous for his luxurious mane.

While a working horse may not get the job done any better because of its looks, a show horse offers the judges more eye appeal if it has a shiny, healthy and long mane. It may not garner any extra points, but it will generate second looks.

Maintaining a show horse’s mane isn’t complicated, but does require consistency and some elbow grease, according to reining trainer Tim McQuay of Tioga, Texas. And while some horses, like some people, are just born with “good hair” (a prime example is Smart And Shiney, pictured here), there are ways to keep every mane looking good.

“The best thing for manes and tails is to shampoo and condition them,” McQuay says. “With the shorter manes, we’ll leave them down. With the longer manes, we’ll keep them braided most of the time. Otherwise they just get tangled and end up tearing out. We’ll leave them braided for two or three days, then take them down, wash them and condition them.”

Braiding also offers benefits for hot-weather riding, keeping the horse’s neck cooler, he says. Regular shampooing also helps prevent a horse from rubbing its mane due to excessive sweat and dirt.

Here, McQuay offers some simple tips on taking care of a horse’s mane to keep it looking good.



Tim McQuay has earned more than $2.8 million in National Reining Horse Association competition, and is a consistent finalist at major NRHA events. He placed fourth at the 2011 NRHA Futurity aboard Hollywood Gotta Gun, sired by the McQuay family’s late, great NRHA Hall of Fame stallion Hollywood Dun It, and won the event in 2008 on Shining N Sassy. Smart And Shiney, a 13-year-old stallion owned by Lyle Lovett, has earned $111,700 in reining events.


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