Horses have manes and tails, and we humans don’t. Perhaps that accounts for their endless fascination to those of us who love and care for a horse.

Sure, we have hair on our heads — most of us, anyway! But the hair in a horse’s mane, as well as in its tail, differs in many ways from people hair.

As a horse owner and show ring competitor, I spend a lot of time on my horses’ manes and tails. Attention paid to these flashier parts of the horse pays off in admiring looks from spectators, not to mention in the number of awards carried home.

A horse’s mane is defined as the hair that grows from its neck. This includes the forelock, of course. The hair of a mane is generally much thicker than the horse’s overall coat. Some horse breeds, and some individuals within breeds, have much thicker manes than others. I have seen amazing show horses whose manes practically touch the ground!

A horse’s tail is an extension of the animal’s spinal column. If you could look inside who would see a number of  vertebrae — on average around 18 or 20, but this can vary. Horse tails also contain muscles and ligaments, arteries, skin and hair. Horse tail hair is made of keratin, and in that respect is more like our fingernails than it is the hair on our heads.

The length and thickness of a horse’s mane and tail are determined by to an extent by genetics. Many horses, though, posses an undeveloped genetic potential for fuller and longer hair in these areas. Knowledgeable owners who can help their horse express this potential have a huge advantage in the show ring.

If you own or simply love a horse, pay extra attention to its mane and tail. It will can pay off in the long run.

Although many have a hard time believing it, it is actually possible to take an average looking horse and grow a long, thick, flowing mane or a luxuriant tail on it in a matter of mere months. Such enhancements do win contests, even against horses that may technically be superior in terms of strict conformation. After all, judges are human, too!

Beautifying a horse in this way has also proved remunerative for some savvy folks. There are people who will buy a mediocre animal, then apply the secret methods that spur the mane and tail to “burst forth,” as it were. They then easily re-sell the horse for much more than they paid, resulting in a very nice profit for themselves.

Of course, most horse owners learn the secrets of growing amazing manes and tails simply for the pleasure it gives them.

My own daughter, Lacy, has become obsessed with figuring out how to increase the length and thickness of her horses’ manes and tails. She has compiled some of what she has learned, along with valuable horse grooming and care advice, at her Horse Mane and Tail site.

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