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GoPro – part four: Tips & tricks on cutting vs. pulling manes from the world’s best grooms

Friday, 07 August 2020
Tips & Tricks


Text © World of Showjumping


Kay Neatham, former long-time groom for Marcus Ehning:

“I mixed it up and found it very individual to each horse. I didn't have a preference to trimming or pulling, but I did have a reference when it came to length – the mane had to be just right to plait and if not plaiting quite short and straight.

One of the worst things that ever happened to me was when I was about 14 years old. I was allowed to ride a mare from a very lovely elderly lady; the mare was called Megan and was dun – that’s a colour that’s only official in English speaking countries I think. Anyway, I learnt at a Pony Club the day before that you could make a tail look pulled by cutting down the sides of the dock with a scissor. Pulled tails was all the look and showed good turn-out in those days. Megan had a beautiful massive tail that hung naturally. By the time I had finished with my scissors she had a perfectly pulled tail! I don't remember what her owner said on the phone to me that evening after she saw it, but she wasn´t happy to say the least.

The other bad example, which upset me more than anything else, was with Sabrina. Princess Sabrina didn´t like being clipped, so after being sedated and clipped I thought it was the perfect time to pull her mane… With her head lower than usual and her being agreeable, I went for it. She had a very short and awfully thin mane when I was finished – I didn´t need to touch her mane again for about a year after that!”

Jenny Ducoffre, long-time groom for Jos Verlooy:


“I’m no hero in pulling manes. If it’s really necessary I would use a dog trim comb or ask Steffi (Isabelle Werth‘s groom), Lisa (Phillip Weishaupt’s groom) or Mona (Alberto Zorzi’s groom) – all very recommendable! It’s kind of a German thing to be good in pulling manes I guess, but I missed this part. I prefer cutting or even do them with my clippers.”

Fran Callan, long-time groom for Jur Vrieling:

“I do like a nicely cut mane, it really finishes off the look. I would probably do this only once a month. I do not really pull manes as I personally like a thick mane that isn’t too short – other people’s worst nightmare. I don’t like to cut a mane too close going to a show as I find a freshly cut mane is a little harder to plait – just like a super clean mane also makes it more difficult. A slightly greasy mane is perfect, then the plaits hold much better. We plait all of our horses for the ring as most of them are breeding stallions and it is nice as an advert to have them plaited. Every groom likes their manes different to plait, so we trim the way we like to plait.”

Morgane Tresch, long-time groom for Jeroen Dubbeldam:

“It depends on the horses. All horses have different manes, so I can pull it on some horses and I can cut on the others. The only thing when you do the mane, you have to keep it straight from the top and not from the ground. Otherwise your mane turns out 10cm longer at the bottom – it should be the same in the middle and on the top.”

Marlen Schannwell, long-time groom for Bertram Allen:

”I only cut – like 1 1/2 hand wide long with a good sharp scissor. With a pulled mane I find braiding is not enjoyable. If the horses – mostly stallions – have lots of mane I use a mane rake too thin the mane out. That is easier, doesn’t hurt and the mane grows out more even." 

Aurelie Marchiando, long-time groom for Leopold van Asten:

“I mostly cut the mane, but sometimes and for some horses we need to pull. Most of the time I take care of the mane myself, because I like to plait the horses at the shows and therefore it is just easier for me if I do it so I get the mane the way that I think is the easiest to plait.”

Josie Eliasson, long-time groom for Jessica Springsteen:

“I cut my horses manes with a very sharp scissor that is forbidden to use for anything else than a mane. I only pull the mane once in a while to get it less thick.”

Sean Vard, long-time groom for Martin Fuchs:

“Manes I like to keep nice and straight using a scissor or a clipping machine. I try to individually match what style and length suits each horse best. I only pull manes when I feel they are too wild and thick.”

Lena Laub:

“I like to pull the manes because I like the mane a bit thinner when I plait the horses. So I pull them, leave them for two days and then I cut them straight. I always stand behind the horse’s tail to check that the mane has the same length all the way. I also like to clip a bit of freedom for the bridle part and cut this away with a clipping machine.”

Mel Jobst, long-time groom for Marcus Ehning:

“I’m bad at pulling manes, but it will be necessary after a while since the manes are getting too thick. Luckily I have a good colleague that is pulling the manes for me. I love to cut manes though, but not too short if I need to plait them. And the mane has to stay on one side – otherwise the rider can’t focus, and I’m not kidding about that.”



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