Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Allison Price
In just four steps, you can learn how to roach the horse’s mane.
As a trainer and judge, I have seen roached manes more often in the show pen. You don’t have to compromise your horse’s appearance by having a minimal mane or one that ruffles a section. A roach can look great if done correctly, and on a horse that has a good shape and balance to his neck. A roach is also easier to handle for the rider, as there’s no need to braid or band manes prior to a show. They can also be convenient for recreational riders. You won’t have to fight the hairs of your horse!
Some disciplines might remove the entire hair, including the forelock. However, if you intend to show, make sure you check the rules of your association about what you can and cannot clip. AQHA, for example, requires that the forelock be left alone and that there is a tuft at the withers.
Do not take lightly the task of roaching a horse’s mane. Before you decide to roach your horse’s mane, make sure you carefully consider the options. You might even consult trusted trainers or experts to see if it will work for your horse. It’s easy to decide if your horse is able to rock the roach.
Step 1: Prep. It looks like this sorrel horse has rubbed out some of his mane, and is about to be roached. Start with a dry, clean mane. Make sure to remove all tangles. A dirty or wet mane can dull blades and cause a choppy cut, which is not what you want when trying to achieve a smooth, chiseled appearance.
Before you start clipping, make sure to choose the right blade. A #10 blade gives you a clean, crisp shave. High-numbered blades like the #40 can shave too close, which can lead to a shave that is not neat. Lubricate the blades with manufacturer-recommended oil to keep the blades cool and cutting smoothly.
Step 2: Trim the Mane Side. Start at the horse’s withers. Leave a tuft on his head, as per the association rules. Then, clip the neck towards his poll by snipping the hair along his side. To give you more control, hold a 2-inch section taut of hair as you work your neck. To help the clippers get through the mane, pull the hair forward.
Step 3: Clip the opposite side. To clip the opposite side, move to the side of the horse. Work from the withers again, leaving that important tuft of hair up toward his poll. This is a chance to “sculpt” the horse’s mane with a neat, even clip. Be careful not to nick his neck. To ensure that they function properly, move clipped hair out of reach of the clippers.
Step 4: Review the Results. The horse’s well-shaped, balanced neck is highlighted by his roached hair. This neat cut looks professional, tidy, and precise. You may need to touch up your horse’s hair if you have roached his mane due to him not being able grow hair. Horses that grow full manes but are roached for any other reason will require regular touch-ups to maintain a neat and tidy appearance. To allow the hair to grow naturally, clip your hair at least three to four weeks before a show.