Thursday, August 4, 2016

When You Give a Horse a Haircut

It seems to me that horse people fall into two camps. Either you love long, flowy, beautiful manes or you like the preciseness of a cut mane. I think that where you fall on horsey haircuts is dependent upon which disciplines you ride in. Long, natural manes are preferred in western riding, trail riding, gaited riding, and Spanish training (which I am not sure of the name - can anyone help me out?). Short, cut manes are preferred in hunter/jumper riding and dressage (due to the necessity of braiding the mane). The other day my trainer suggested that I cut Casey's mane and I must admit that inside I wept a little bit. I know that it is just hair and hair grows back, but it is so pretty when it is long. She looks like a glorious magical steed for a Queen with her long silky mane.
Look at that stunning mane
And yet... my trainer pointed out many good reasons to cut her mane. It makes it easier to braid. It allows you to see her neckline. It is less hot. And if she is going to be a jumping pony than she might as well look the part. And so I decided to cut her mane.
Say goodbye to your hair horsie!
I have never cut a mane before. In fact, I have never really cut anyone's hair at any point, because really I don't trust myself that much with scissors and nobody else should do. I probably could have asked my trainer to cut Casey's mane for me, but I am a horse owner now and I will let how to do these things! I had watched my trainer cut another mare's mane earlier this week and so after crossing my fingers and making a teenager demonstrate how to do it on her horse I decided to just do it.
My tools
I was using regular scissors and thinning blades (which are like scissors, but with holes on the blade so that when you cut, you are only cutting some of the hair). I first cut out a bridle path in her mane. I basically made up how to do this. I figured out where the bridle went and then grabbed a chunk of hair and tried to cut as close to the roots as I could. I think that I only cut about an inch and a half for the bridle path and when I later went to put on Casey's bridle I noticed that it was probably too small. Oh well, nobody can see it up there anyways.
Then I took the regular scissors and started at the top of her neck and cut down, trying to make it straight. I learned the hard way that you shouldn't pull on sections of the mane to cut it more easily because then you actually cut that section of hair shorter than the rest (my bad!). I really did a bad job at this (and took no photographic evidence - just trust me). Casey's poor mane looked butchered, with some sections being noticeably shorter than others and the layer of hair closest to her neck was somehow longer than the top layer of hair and it was just a mess. Luckily I had cut the mane longer than I actually wanted it so I was able to kind of correct my mistakes.
The final product
The side view
After using the regular scissors I went in with the thinning scissors. I had never used these before and they are not very easy to use simply because it is really hard to judge how much hair will come off with each snip. Casey has a very thick, full mane and so I spent FOREVER sitting there, snipping and then realizing that it looked exactly the same so I had to snip some more. This was very tedious, but eventually, things started to look a little bit better. Casey's mane was starting to look more straight and less blunt, so yay me!
Casey is not amused
Once I thought that I was done I went over her mane with a brush and I also reached my hands along her neck, under her mane, pulling at her mane from the underside. Boy am I glad I did this step. I found tons of sections of long hair that had been tucked into the mane. Casey would have looked really silly if I had skipped this step!
Look at how nice the ends are! Thinning scissors = MAGIC
And finally, I was done! All in all I am proud of my hair cut job. I think that it looks ok-ish which is better than I was expecting! I think that I could have made her mane almost a whole inch shorter, because it does look long. I also think that the middle section still looks longer than it should be, but she's a horse and so I don't think she actually cares what her mane looks like.
So much hair
Speaking of Casey's reaction. I swear my horse does not appreciate all of the care and time and blood (quite literally), sweat, and tears I put into making her look nice. The entire time I was working on her mane she was grouchy with me. Stamping her feet, pushing her nose into my ribs, moving from side to side... she was not a happy horsie. Well too bad Casey! You are mine now and have to put up with me! Bwahahahaha :)
See, I wasn't kidding about the blood part. I cut myself with the thinning scissors...

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