Horse Journal OnCall: Winter Neck Covers

My horse loses his mane every winter.
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My horse loses his mane every winter.

Every winter my horse loses half his mane due to neck covers that rub it off. I've checked out anti-rub covers for underneath, but all of them have a face cover that would get wet in all the rain we have here or it's just a shoulder cover that doesn't cover the mane. Any suggestions?

11-p15

Associate Editor Margaret Freeman replies: First we need to ask why you're using a neck cover at all. Even if a horse is clipped, you don't need to cover the neck the way you do the muscled areas of the body in order to keep him comfortable, as long as he has adequate protection from wind and rain.

You told us that you live north of Seattle, where winters are wet but not that cold, with average lows in the 30s. While your clipped horse lives outside with a run-in shed, he should be fine with a good turnout blanket and inner layer (see temperature chart Blanketing Guide). The exception might be if you want that neck cover for grooming reasons, but it's overkill in mild winter climates.

In addition, we're not fond of the idea of a horse being turned out in a hood. There are too many ways he can snag all those straps and buckles on things. If his enclosure includes an electric fence, he can start pushing right through it. A stretchy face cover added to the mix can pull down over his eyes, effectively blinding him.

A better strategy might be to do a trace clip that leaves on part of the neck and body hair and to combine it with a high-necked blanket that has a snug neck/chest closure, such as the Rambo Wug (www.horsewareireland.com) or TurtleNeck Ice Turtle (www.turtleneckinfo.com).

If you really want to stay with a neck cover, use a system where the cover and blanket come from the same model and manufacturer, to ensure stability. Curry and wash the mane regularly (easier said than done in winter) to keep it free of dirt and scurf, and spray it with Show Sheen before replacing the neck cover.