Whether you’re shortening your horse’s mane to make plaiting easier, or you’re simply trying to tame his wild locks, many horse owners agree that the traditional way of pulling a mane isn’t the easiest (or kindest) way to do it.
A lot of horses dislike having their mane pulled, and so alternatives methods have had to be found.
To get the best results when you’re tidying the mane you need to thin it as well as shorten it. To help with both of these there are a growing number of products that do this in a humane way.
About the test
Our tester has been using a number of these products on her two horses for over 12 months. Neither horse likes having their mane pulled, so she was keen to see how they reacted to this new method of tidying.
As well as assessing her horses’ behaviour, our tester also considered how easy the products are to use and how effective they are at giving a neat and natural finish.
Each product is marked out of five for ease of use, effectiveness and value for money. This gives an overall rating out of 15.
Our winner is…
RRP £17.99. Buy at sologroom.com
Ease of use: A simple piece of kit that is easy to use. The handle of the comb is rubberised making it easy to hold. To cut the mane simply press down the lever on the top of the comb handle and the blade cuts the mane. 5 stars
Effectiveness: The more I use the SoloComb the better the results I get. At first one of my horses still thought I was going to pull hair out, as the technique you use is similar — back combing hair — and he was anticipating the hair being pulled out. He soon realised that pulling hair out wasn’t going to happen and now stands quietly to have his mane shortened. You can’t be greedy. To get the best results only cut a small amount of hair at a time. 4.5 stars
Value for money: Very good value – it does a good job. The blade has done both of my horses several times. You can buy replacement blades. 4.5 stars
Total score: 14.5
Other products in test…
RRP £17.99. Buy at sologroom.com
Ease of use: This rake is so easy to use and quick. The shape of the handle makes it comfortable to use too. I’ve used this product on the mane and tail with great results. 5 stars
Effectiveness: This double-headed rake makes short work of thinning out thick manes. I’ve used it a lot on an Irish Sport Horse with a particularly thick mane who thoroughly dislikes having his mane pulled. The SoloRake does the job and my horse stands quietly while I use it. You just need to tidy the length up a little once you finished thinning. 4.5 stars
Value for money: Great value. 4.5 stars
Total score: 14
3. LINCOLN THINNING KNIFE
RRP £10. For stockists: lincolnhorsecare.com
Ease of use: A neat bit of kit that folds away neatly when you’re not using it. The wooden handle is a good shape and provides good grip. It took a few goes with this to perfect my technique as you have to make sure you hold the hair you want to remove tightly, otherwise it doesn’t cut very well. 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: Once I’d got my technique sorted I got on very well with this thinning knife. It important not to try and remove too much hair at a time in order to get the best results. It’s great for quick tidy ups to keep my horse’s mane at a good length for easy plaiting. Both of my horses are happy to stand quietly while I shorten and tidy. 4.5 stars
Value for money: Good value. I will definitely buy it again. 4.5 stars
Total score: 13.5
4. SMART GROOMING PRO THINNING/LEVELLING KNIFE
RRP £10.95. Buy at smartgrooming.com
Ease of use: This handy knife is great for tidying manes. It’s easy to hold and the wide blade makes it easy to use and effective. 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: This leaves a natural looking finish, which I like. It also doesn’t take very long to work down the mane and get it nice and level. One of my horses still isn’t keen on having her mane back combed, as she thinks I’m going to pull the hair out, but she is getting better the more I use this knife. It works best when used with a rake to thin the mane first. 4.5 stars
Value for money: Very good value. This is a great piece of kit to have in your grooming kit. 4.5 stars
Total score: 13.5
5. SMART MANES
RRP £35.50. Buy at smartgrooming.com
Ease of use: Quick and simple to use: brush the mane onto the wrong side and brush is through, before running the rake through it from the top of the neck down. It’s a quick job — just run the rake over the area of mane that you want thinning a couple of times. 5 stars
Effectiveness: This rake is really effective, but you need to be careful you don’t get too much mane. I only use it on the thickest part of the mane and both of my horses stand quietly while it is done. You need to tidy up and level off the mane after you’ve thinned it to give a neat appearance. 5 stars
Value for money: Not cheap but good quality, and still working well after heavy use. Replacement heads are available. 3 stars
Total score: 13
6. ROMA MANE COMB & THINNING BLADE
RRP £2.65. Available online and from local tack shops
Ease of use: This is a handy addition to your grooming kit. It’s easy to hold and you can use it just as a comb or turn it over so that the blade is facing the mane to thin and shorten. 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: I got on better with this one as a finishing off comb – the blade copes well with levelling off the length of the mane. It struggled to thin out the mane, in my opinion. I’ve used it on both of my horses several times and the blade still has some life left in it. 4 stars
Value for money: Very good value and works well at shortening and tidying. 4 stars
Total score: 12.5
7. METAL MANE & TAIL THINNING RAZOR
RRP £4.99. Buy at ebay.co.uk
Ease of use: I like the longer handle on this comb and that blades can be easily replaced when needed. 4 stars
Effectiveness: Not as effective at thinning out the mane as some of the products tested, but I found it good for levelling off the mane after it had been thinned. It did work a little better on the tail. The blades do need replacing quite often. 3.5 stars
Value for money: A useful bit of kit that won’t break the bank. 4.5 stars
Total score: 12