To Pull or Not to Pull



At least once every year, I get the itch to pull Nibbles’ mane. There are a few considerations for me:

  • How easy is it to maintain?
  • How does it look every day?
  • How does it look braided?
  • How hard is it to braid?

Those aren’t necessarily in order which is sort of the hard part. Longtime readers will know I started riding on Arabs (before moving on to an OTTB’s and others) so I’m used to long manes and running braids. But I was also showing on the Arab circuit back then and really didn’t know much different.

But now, considering I want to show USDF, I’m tempted to polish my button braiding skills and pull that sucker.

Muddy mane

couple years ago…are you kidding me

How easy is it to maintain?

Long manes are sort of a pain in the butt in that they get dirty and tangled (see post-mud-roll photo above). Nibbles isn’t took bad about this but witches knots are super annoying. They try my patience to pull them apart slowly rather than take a pair of scissors to them. I can afford pretty sparse boarding amenities at this point so it’s been several years since I’ve boarded at a barn with an indoor washrack that had heated water. This means, in the fall/winter, the long mane gets a brushed and detangled and that’s it. It can get pretty gross.

Pulled manes have a whole different set of needs. They don’t get near as icky as long manes but you have to keep pulling them or at least touching them up. I haven’t had a horse with a pulled mane in like 9 years so maybe I don’t appreciate how annoying it is to have to keep up with but it sounds awfully good compared to the long mane right now.

How does it look every day?

Long manes are something I think you either love or hate… unless you’re me and you can see the case for both. Ha! Pulled manes look very tidy and sporty which I love. It’s annoying when they flip and they also look really junky too long.

How does it look braided?

This is the one where pulled manes get a solid point in my book. I love the look of button braids. I love the different styles of braids for pulled manes.



For long manes, I don’t mind running braids…done really well. There’s nothing sloppier looking to me than a loose or poorly braided running braid. Frankly, I don’t really like long manes done any other way. Personal preference but I just don’t.

4.27 No Show

nice and tidy braid on miss nibs

How hard is it to braid?

This is the one that gives me the most heartburn. I’m really good at running braids. I can french braid anything, standing or squirming, tall or short. I love braiding. Therefore, with a long mane, I know I can whip up a nice looking braid without much trouble or even time.

It’s been almost a decade since I had to do anything but a running braid (where did time go omg). While I dream of a pulled mane, what if I can’t braid the dang thing? What if my button braids look like crap? What if it comes show time and I can’t get them right and we look like crap going down the centerline and the judge laughs us out? Oh wait, that’s not really a thing? Oh, well… but what if we look sloppy? I don’t like sloppy.

Drying in the sun. Not bad for just shampoo and elbow grease.

can you imagine this with a pulled mane?

What do you think? Pull it or keep it long? What advice do you have or what factor am I not considering?


24 thoughts on “To Pull or Not to Pull

  1. Karen says:

    Your running braid is amazing. I would say keep the mane long in your case. I stink at running braids, and am not much better at button braids but they are at least somewhat show appropriate so I pull Hamp’s mane. Plus he just looks better with a pulled mane.

  2. aHorseForElinor says:

    Pulled. Shows off the neckline everyday, shoes YOU her muscles in her neck. Every day. No mane tangling while riding. Better show look. Friesians and Andys look ok at USDF shows in running braids. The rest of us simply look more serious in traditional European button braids in dressage.
    But you’ve got a few years to make up your mind at the lower levels 🙂

  3. Carly says:

    I think a pulled mane looks so much sportier and tidier. That said, your running braid is drool worthy. Maybe just leave her braided all the time? :p

  4. Hillary H. says:

    I am pulled manes all the way. Also once I mastered my button braids they were really pretty easy. Now I need to learn how to do hunter braids… I don’t band my button braids and it only takes me 20-30 minutes with a cooperative horse. Happy to go into more detail on my button braids if you’re interested 🙂

  5. Tracy - Fly On Over says:

    OH man, I’m super biased. I don’t like long manes, probably because of my upbringing (QH) and my current discipline (hunters). That said, Nibbles does look FANTASTIC in that running braid!

  6. ashequine says:

    I debated this myself last summer! I ultimately decided to go short – my running braids are nowhere near as nice as yours and I had a run of a few real sloppy ones at shows and I got frustrated. I’ve found the button braids are easier to care for while at the show because at least if one falls out you just have to redo that one. If the running braid is falling out you have to redo the whole thing. I still need more button braid practice, but I’m pretty happy with my desicion overall!

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