Geeze that reader sure got herself worked up over some mane pulling. Sounds like a drama mama to me. I mean I would not pull my horse's mane if he hated it, I'd just use scissors. Some do choose to twitch or lip chain, I personally would not. But I also wouldn't waste my time thinking that those horses are being tortured. Man there are a lot of really passionate horse people who need to direct their attention at something IMPORTANT, like the thousands upon thousands of horses who are neglected. I have worked for a rescue league and had the horror of discovering some of those neglected horses myself. This drama mama reader and others are so passionate they could really be of some use if they would quit barking up the wrong trees! I say to the reader, GO VOLUNTEER!!!
I do have to admit, when I read the original mane pulling article in COTH, I thought it was a little heavy on the various ways to restrain your horse while pulling. It sort of made it seem a lot of horses need to be drugged, twitched, whatever. I usually give my magazines to a horse owning (but not show oriented) friend, and I remember thinking, jeez I don't want her to think mane pulling is some torturous ordeal.
So I guess I can kind of see where this letter writer was coming from, even though she seems a little, um, extreme. It usually isn't a big deal. Every horse I've ever done didn't really care. My old horse even seemed to like it. I think the most surprising thing about the letter was that it was written by a vet. Definitely seemed like an over reaction!
I understand that some horses really dislike mane pulling. But someone please correct me if I am wrong:
1) I have always thought that horses had fewer, or maybe NO, nerve endings in their mane. So it is not comparable to pulling a human's hair out. The tugging may be annoying but it is different. I know I can lead my horses around by their manes or tug on them without any sort of reaction.
2) I also thought that a rope or chain on the horse's upper gum released endorphins. I'm not talking about cranking something down so it digs into the gum... but pressure applied there.
Proudly with HRC -- "SJW" isn't an insult where *I* come from.
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As a human that hates having my hair combed, I relate to these horses. Try the following
Pull when horse is still warm after work.
Use ora-jel, or other topical numbing agent.
I use a clipper blade to get most done, then pull to thin.
They do make stripping combs that will thin, then you can use the clipper blade.
Some do not mind, some are just more sensitive than others. I am not opposed to just saying yes, if the above dosen't help.
I was always under the few or no nerve endings impression as well. My horses don't mind it. I can't imagine any horse would put up with it if it hurt as much as human hair pulled out of the head. Any vets other than the letter writer care to chime in on the nerve endings question?
Ya know, for 3 squares, a furnished apartment, a gym membership, designer clothing and planned outdoor entertainment, my horses are going to have to put up with a little crap. That includes mane pulling.
I've owned A LOT of horses and never had one, not one, that I couldn't train to stand for mane pulling. They get used to it.
All animals have sensory nerves at their roots. Some people feel that horses have fewer than most. Its more that horses are simply more stoic/less sensitive and/or just don't care. Some horses are obviously bothered by it-which is why I have no problem sedating one if it needs the whole thing pulled at once (in a similar vein when sedating for another procedure I always ask the client if they need to pull mane/clean sheath/clip ears and offer to top them up or give just a touch heavier for my work so they can have an easier time with their clip/pull/cleaning. No sense in wasting good drugs )
I hope I'm making sense, took a migraine pill and am kinda sleepy so...maybe Ghazzu can translate if I've made an ass of myself lol.
Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
Sam: A job? Does it pay?
Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.
Well now. At least she feels strongly about something. Too many people in this world who can't be bothered to get passionate about an issue, I say!
A couple of weeks ago, I slipped on some ice while leading the mare in. I happened to grab a chunk of her mane, back by the withers, on the way down. Slowed my descent slightly, but I ended up on my butt with a big fistful of mane- considerably more than you take out when pulling. She never flicked an ear. This is the same horse who I can't run a soft brush over in the winter because she's so touchy. *Shrug*
I think the letter is a little ridiculous. Okay, a lot ridiculous. Comparing it to waterboarding and torture is just in the realm of the absurd.
I went from the arabian world to grooming jumpers & eventers. The mane pulling has definitely been an interesting transition. I have to admit both that I still prefer natural manes (to those saying it gets caught, tangled, etc, I don't think your manes are probably being managed very well...). But I do enjoy how a pulled mane looks on ours.
I will also say the majority definitely don't like it. Have a couple that actually get kind of angry and upset about it. I don't like to do it, but there is good reason for it in addition to looking better on these particular horses. I think sometimes they can put up with something like that out of vanity considering they're treated well otherwise. We haven't had to drug any of them yet, but have twitched them. I don't usually have an assistant so lip chains aren't really possible. As far as likening it to plucking, I'm not sure about that. I've had my eyebrows waxed for a couple of years and they usually tidy up a few hairs by plucking, and it hurts as much today as it did when I first started, and I hate that part. I feel kind of bad about putting the horse through something that I find rather painful myself, but recognize it's an aesthetic requirement...
Last edited by Dazednconfused; Feb. 12, 2010 at 02:13 AM.
One of mine couldn't care less, one actually drops when you pull his mane or tail and the other is violently opposed. The one who is violently opposed, is EXTREMELY sensitive about everything - not physically but mentally. The one who drops, you can't touch him with a brush. Letter was way over the top, all you get by being that extreme is having people turn away and roll their eyes.
Didn't see all the posts on this, but I agree with the letter-writer. It's shocking to discover how few people, it seems, know the potential for pain that a lip-chain provides. This is NOT something that should be casually brought up in a 'horse-care' article, making the technique available to every unqualified 'horseperson' out there.
Just my 2 cents about what I think the author was trying to get across:
1) That there are lines that are being crossed in the article. Maybe not for the ego-centric who think it's totally OK to do whatever to the horse, since it's your need for a completely fabricated mane style that's center stage -- and the horse better comply. But, the letter probably rang a bell for those who think that caring for and riding horses are about the best interests of the horse. A short mane? In who's interest is that? Doubtful that it's the horse's...
2) That the horse is being restrained/made to hurt (whatever choice of words you'd like) b/c we want something from the horse, and we're going to get it from it no matter the cost.
More than a few people have indicated that they feel 'bad' about the obvious discomfort the horse is suffering. And what is the purpose of a 'feeling' but to indicate to you that you're on some moral quicksand?
Any good horseman knows that the horse should be approached with integrity and with a win/win attitude. Don't know if that mane-pulling article would make the "good horsemanship" cut...
And, yes I keep my horses' manes short. I like the look -- it shows them off. My horses have been much better with mane pulling/scissors, b/c I take the time to learn their limits and give them a way to tolerate the procedure if they don't like it much. Their discomfort I listen to way more than my need to have the mane just so.
Also just had to ask: What is an 'aesthetic requirement?" Guessing it's just found in the Rule Book. That's not a requirement, like school vaccinations. It's just a prevailing fashion style.
There is a certain style and grooming caliber that is expected in some breeds.
Just as in arabian shows you probably won't get a second look without having a horse that is bodyclipped, ears clipped, etc there are some circles that require pulling. I don't know about you but as a groom I like my horses to show up and look like they're there to win (not to mention that's what I get paid for!) Sorry, I'm not going to be the one to attempt a new trend. Also, you have to pull to be able to braid (something else that is required in some breeds. But if you want to show up at HITS for a hunter class not braided be my guest. It's your money to blow!)
Listen, I have no problem with pulling a mane if the horse is not bothered by it. But if you have to use restraints, twitches or clips twisting the skin, I personally would find another method to shorten my horse's mane especially if you are showing at the local level, schooling or just trail riding.
Think like YOUR horse and if he hates it but fashion is at stake, find another way to shorten his mane.
Last edited by pines4equines; Feb. 12, 2010 at 01:52 PM.
Reason: added a word
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Ahhh.... manes. One of my favorite topics. My pinto looks like a stubby little boy with a pulled mane, so it grows long and thick. We call him Fabio. He has a short neck and just looks wrong with it pulled. My QH, however, looks much better with a pulled mane.
I'm pretty sure the person posting the response was more upset by all the restraint ideas that were in the article rather than just the pulling. I mean ... really? If you have to twitch your horse to pull his mane, why are you pulling it? There are many other options and ways of caring for a mane... though I know the thought of using a scissors on a mane can send some people (like my barn owner) into a twitching mess.
Long manes *shouldn't* be frizzy, tangled, bleached out, ratty, etc. I probably spend more time caring for my pinto's mane than most do with their pulled manes. I have said more than once if I'm going to have a horse with a long mane, I have a responsibility to care for it. That means he is braided in thick braids a lot of the time, like in the summer to keep his neck cool, and in the winter when the winds are really bad. I pull any whispy bits, and can get a lot of stragglers out with a good combing and running my fingers through it. He gets conditioner in it, both during his baths and a spray in conditioner/detangler when I'm combing it. I braid it for clinics and if it's bugging me while riding. His mane is so thick he gets a double running braid for shows ... and my braids have been approved by even the barn owner above, because they are tight and give the impression of "hunter braids" from a distance.
I don't pull either of my horses manes, but not because I think that it is cruel. I think that it is a pain in the @ss so I use scissors, thinning shears, etc to imitate the pulled look. The arab does not like to be pulled, so this works for him and the TB could not care less either way.