also leaves a hint of conditioner in
the mane, rather than rinsing it out
“You don’t have to get all of the
conditioner out of the mane, but
you do need to rinse it off the body
completely,” says Piper.
After the conditioner has been
rinsed out, you can spray the mane
with leave-in conditioner. “We spray
it in wet, then we brush with a hairbrush and then braid the hair while
it’s still wet,” he adds.
When it’s time to take down the
braids, the bathing, conditioning and
leave-in conditioning process can be
repeated, but Piper doesn’t brush the
hair at that time. He says the brush
is only used when there’s leave-in
conditioner in the mane, and he’s
preparing to braid—or show.
“I don’t brush the mane when it’s
down and out of braids,” Piper says. “I
may go over the dry mane with a soft
body brush if there are shavings or
hay in it, but that’s about it. Brushing every day just pulls the hair out,
especially with a hairbrush.”
Piper’s horses all follow the same mane care routine. On
Mondays or Tuesdays, the horses’ manes are washed, conditioned and braided up for the next four days. On Thursdays
or Fridays, the braids are taken out, the mane is washed and
conditioned and is left free for the next few days.
This routine keeps the mane braided during much of the
work week, but the horses usually get one or two days’ rest
on the weekend, so it’s a good time for the mane to take a
break from braids.
“We give them the weekend off [from being braided up], but we like to keep
them braided—it just keeps the mane from getting tangled,” says Piper.
The routine for tails is a bit different—they are washed, conditioned and braided, then put in a tail sock once a week. Piper says the tails stay put up most of
the time, unless the horse is showing.
Shampooing and Conditioning
To wash the mane, start by thoroughly soaking the hair from roots to ends. If your
horse has a substantial amount of mane, rub about two quarter-size dollops of
shampoo along the base of the mane and partly down the hair shaft, then scrub
into the roots and hair.
Piper says the most important part of shampooing is rinsing thoroughly—and
not just the mane.
“It’s really important to make sure you get it all washed out,” says Piper. “I
rinse the body and the legs after shampooing as well—particularly the fet-
locks—because soap residue can contribute to scratches and other skin issues.”
Once the hair is clean, smooth a good amount of conditioner into the
forelock and the base of the mane, as well as the ends of the hair. Leave the
conditioner in to work for a few minutes.
Piper often will wash the mane and condition it, then move on to wash and
condition the tail, then go back to the mane to rinse before rinsing the tail. He
the mane as much
as possible. If you
need to remove
shavings or hay,
use a soft body
Nathan Piper is a reining trainer
with earnings in excess of
$580,000. He’s been a Level 4
Open finalist at all major National
Reining Horse Association
competitions. He trains out of
Aubrey, Texas, where he lives with
his wife, Jean, and two daughters.