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How to Trim a Horse’s Mane: Horse Haircut

A smartly trimmed mane can highlight a strong neckline or even help coverup confirmation flaws. While in the past, horse owners were limited to painstakingly pulling individual hairs to tidy up a mane, today, a selection of horse mane grooming tools are available that make it easy and quick to trim a horse mane.

In this article, you will learn how to trim your horses mane in seven steps. With this easy guide, you will be ready to into the show ring proud of your horses neatly trimmed mane

If you have never trimmed a horse’s mane before, it could be a bit daunting. There’s the concern of cutting the mane too short, or not getting it even. Maybe it will look choppy, or won’t lay flat. Don’t worry, the following list will help you to trim up your horse’s mane like a pro.

A woman trimming a horse mane.

Tools to Use

  • Office scissors – These will be useful if you need to cut a large section of mane at once. Just make sure they’re sharp.
  • Small scissors – These scissors are easier to control, and used for the more detailed part of trimming, or for evening out sections of the mane, like a hairstylist would use. Again, make sure they are sharp.
  • Plastic comb – This is for combing out any tangles in the mane, and to section the mane if necessary.
  • Detangler – If your horse has a lot of knots in their mane, this will make combing them out much easier. 
  • Clippers – These will be needed to clip and clean up the bridle path.

1. Wash Their Mane

It is a good idea to wash your horse’s mane before you trim it so it will be nice and clean. Make sure to shampoo it well to get all of the dirt and grime out. Ideally, wash the mane about a day or two before you plan to trim it. This will give it plenty of time to dry.  

2. Comb it Out

Before you can begin trimming, you will need to comb out the mane. This works out all of the knots, and ensures the mane will be trimmed more evenly. You will also need to keep combing as you are trimming, but it is best to start out with a freshly combed mane as well.

3. Decide on an Appropriate Length

You should always make sure you know what length you want your horse’s mane before you take scissors to it. Do you just want to even up the ends? Do you need it shorter for braiding? How short is short enough? These questions may be answered based on breed standards, or competition standards. For example, some breeds, like Friesians, are known for having long, flowing manes. Jumpers typically have their manes trimmed much shorter since their manes are frequently braided for competition. If you are not worried about breed or competition standards, then the length is completely up to you.

4. Cut Evenly Along Length of the Mane

There are a few options for mane trimming. If you want a clean, blunt look to the ends, then comb a strand of mane and cut the ends when you reach the length you want. Continue doing this down the length of their mane. If you are planning to braid their mane, this works well. If you want to leave it down, then the blunt edge may look odd and unnatural. For a more natural look, start out by cutting a blunt edge, but a couple inches longer than you want the final cut to be. Then, comb a strand of mane like you did for the blunt cut, but instead of cutting straight across, cut up towards the comb at about a 45 degree angle. It will take a bit longer to complete the trimming this way, and will require more practice to get the technique just right, but it will give the ends of the mane the more natural look.

5. Repeat to Clean up the Edges

You will need to go over the length of the mane a few times to clean up any missed hairs, and to make sure the ends look how you want them to. Make sure to keep cutting upward at an angle so the mane has a more natural look all the way across. Be careful to not keep shortening the mane as you do this, unless you want to go shorter. It will take a while for the mane to grow back, so it is better to leave it slightly longer than you think it should be. You can always go back over it in a couple days if you still think it should be shorter.

6. Clip the Bridle Path

The bridle path is the strip of mane that is clipped short right behind the horse’s ears. This is optional; however, it does make bridling and unbridling a bit easier. The length of the bridle path is either up to personal preference, or breed standards for show horses. Some breeds, such as Arabians, are typically given a longer bridle path than others. It should at least be long enough that the crown of the bridle has room behind the ears without getting tangled in the mane. Once you have decided how long you want the bridle path to be, then use scissors to cut the majority of the mane in this section. Once you have shorter hairs to work with, you can use clippers to get the rest of the hair and clean up the area.

7. Trim the Forelock

The last step in trimming your horse’s mane is to trim up their forelock. There are a couple of options here. One is to do a blunt cut, which would mean cutting the forelock evenly straight across. The second option is to use an angled cut so the forelock almost looks as though it is coming to a point. This option gives the forelock a more natural look. Some people choose to cut the forelock off entirely, the same way you would cut the bridlepath.

A Note About Shortening vs. Thinning

In addition to trimming the length of a horse’s mane, many people also thin out the mane. This is often done to make braiding easier, since many horses’ manes are much thicker in the middle than at the top or the bottom. There are a couple methods used for thinning the mane, including “pulling” and using a thinning comb. Pulling a horse’s mane results in pulling the longer hairs out at the root. A thinning comb is similar, but cuts the hairs near the root. 


If you mess up, or cut it a little too short, just remember that it will grow back. Giving your horse the perfect haircut will take some practice, but it can definitely be done. Just remember to take your time, and only cut a little at a time.

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