I recently asked my group of horse owning friends on Facebook & Instagram what their go-to methods are for growing healthy and long manes and tails. Below I'll share with you the most common supplements and tricks that have shown great results. But first, a quick disclaimer: I am not receiving any sort of compensation, monetary or otherwise, for naming any products listed in this post.
First and foremost, your horse must have a healthy, balanced diet. This could mean different things for different horses, depending on their age, breed, weight, activity level, etc. Just the same as humans, don't go adding supplements before you access their diet. Supplements are meant to supplement.
Gelatin: It has been recommended to supplement 1-2 ounces per day, but I'd personally recommend doing some additional research to get the right dose for your horse's specific weight, etc. This also helps aid in hoof health.
Su-Per Hoof: This is a supplement with both gelatin and biotin, as well as some other vitamins.
BioMane: I personally would try the first three supplements before trying this one. But I've heard lots of great reviews from BioMane users! I would just rather test the less expensive options first before spending over a dollar a day hoping it works on my horse.
Listerine Original (the brown one) + baby oil 50/50: The Listerine will help kill fungus and dandruff. The baby oil keeps the skin moisturized. Some horse owners do this mix every time they redo their bag/braid.
Bags, Wraps, & Braids
Using bags, wraps, and braids seems to be very dependent on a few things: the amount of time you're willing and able to spend on taking care of your horse's hair, the breed of your horse, your riding discipline, your trainer/groom, where they spend most of their time, and how much they play with other horses. For example, most owners of reiners keep their manes braided at all times and rebraid them once a week/every other week. With tails, it's a little more dependent on the trainer/groom. Some like too keep the tails free-flowing & knot or braid them only when they're riding. Some keep them in several vet-wrapped knots & redo those once a month or so. There's so many different methods, and I recommend trying out several to find the best fit for you and your horse. Now on to the methods for bags, wraps, and braids.
Braids: like I mentioned above, some owners braid & rebraid their horse's manes and tails once a week. Each time adding in moisturizer/conditioners.
Tail Knots: While I'm not sure who the very first person was to do this, the first time I ever heard of it was from my sister after she came home from working for Mark Shaffer. Here's how you do it:
Step 1. wash, brush, and condition the tail
Step 2. take a quarter-in-diameter bunch of tail, and tie it in a figure 8 knot. Do this until you have the whole tail knotted
Step 3. pull the knot tight and wrap a piece of vet wrap around the knot to secure it from undoing itself
Step 4. brush and condition the free ends weekly
Step 5. repeat the knots when necessary
What this does is shortens the tail so it doesn't get stepped on & ripped out, but also allows your horse to still have some tail to swish flies with. The knots also add a little bit of weight that may aid in growth.
Traditional Tail Bag: Regular bags are a good alternative to the Tail Boot but it would need to be redone more often because it's not as secure of a bag.
DIY Tail Boot: Braid your horses tail, wrap it up similar to this demonstration by the Tail Boot company here. Instead of applying the tail boot in that demonstration video, take some pieces of twine (about 3 feet long) and loop the twin into the tail at the bottom and then tie them in a knot to secure the pieces. Lastly, wrap the tail with vet wrap to hold everything together. The twine gives your horse something to swat the flies with.
Free-flowing: you can always opt to leave all their hair flowing freely, detangling & conditioning only when necessary. Some of the best tails I've seen are hardly touched.
Tips for Forelocks
I don't recommend braiding or banding small forelocks ever unless you're going to a show. If it is already long and full then just treat it the same as you do with their mane. In the summer, make sure you're mindful about what their flymask is doing to their forelock. Some masks will rub on their forelock making it short and thin over time.
Overall, keep them moisturized, cross your fingers, and pray every night for growth.
The Most Important Factor
Time: Give your horse time. Be consistent with caring for their overall health and over time you will see improvement. My recommendation after reading all this is to not go out and buy everything on this list and use it all. I'd start with choosing 1 or 2 things from the list that make the most sense to you and how you want to care for your horse. If you've been using the same product for over 6 months with no noticeable change, definitely switch it up and try something else on the list. Same as with people, not every horse is going to respond the same way to these products. You also need to do what is convenient for you, just start experimenting and see what works!
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