Blogging About Hogging
Are you proud of those long, flowing locks … no, not yours! Rather your horse’s beautiful mane? That’s not to say your locks aren’t lovely too, albeit usually screwed into a messy bun while you muck out, or hidden under your riding helmet when you ride out.
How much time and effort, not to mention mane products, does it take you to keep that mane tamed? Especially in winter when mud, leaves, dried grass and other debris becomes entangled in those luscious locks, which also get in the way and rubbed by rugs. There is an alternative … hogging.
WHAT IS HORSE HOGGING?
When I first heard the term “hogging” (in the US “roaching”)I imagined it was one of the cruel practices that horse owners often impose on their steeds for some misguided reason. Not so at all! Basically hogging is just a horse haircut. It involves shaving or cutting short a horse’s mane and – in the case of feathered cobs – clipping their lower legs close too, so they are clear of long hair. The forelock is often left long, depending on why you hog, and in keeping with breed tradition.
It doesn’t hurt the horse, any more than plaiting a long mane does, and the practice is a matter of personal choice. As with most things we do with our horses there are pros and cons and a time and reason to do, or not to do.
ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST HOGGING HORSES
· It’s unnatural, I hear you cry! Horses are meant to have the manes they are born with. Perhaps so, but consider this. No truly wild equines have long, floppy manes or heavy feathering … we humans have bred these traits into them for aesthetic reasons. There’s no scientific evidence that long manes carry much benefit beyond good looks, but of course they do give novice riders something to hold on to. In the wild Zebras, for example, have manes of short, erect hair, much like a hogged mane.
· What about Showing and other disciplines, especially related to native horse breeds? Certain equestrian competitive disciplines do, definitely, require a plaited/knotted/loose mane or well-groomed mane as part of the judging criteria, so you need to abide by the rules. In these cases you will probably have to subject your horse to mane pulling (pulling out individual hairs from the root to thin or shorten it) for neat braiding. In contrast, Polo ponies need hogging because of the nature of their sport.
· Once you hog your horse, and then decide to let it grow back, beware that regrowth can take up to a year, and look scrubby and messy in the meanwhile. Hogging your horse is a commitment not unlike you having your hair cut into a pixie cut … it requires regular maintenance.
· Some horses hate having clippers run down their neck – necessary for a good hogging.
· Personal preference is a big factor. Perhaps you take pride in your horse’s mane and are willing to put in what’s required to keep the hair clean and healthy. This is great, if you have the time for daily mane management, not always possible especially if your horse is kept on a busy yard. Also, consider the breed of your horse. Some wouldn’t look good with a hogged mane – can you imagine an Arab shorn, for example?
· Sometimes there are medical reasons for hogging a horse. A skin infection, sweet itch, a surgical site, laceration repair, or lice infestation might mean that shearing the mane might be beneficial.
· Hogging enhances your horse’s topline.
HOW TO HOG A HORSE
So, after considering all the pros and cons, you’ve decided to hog your horse. How do you do it?
· First, cut off the mane length with a pair of straight scissors, while he is distracted with a bucket of treats. Cut as close as you can with the scissors.
· Take a pair of quiet, small, sharp and well-oiledclippers and start shaving the remaining mane hairs from the withers up, a few stripes at a time, without digging in.
· Most hoggers prefer to leave the forelock, but that’s up to you.
· You don’t have to shear the mane down to the roots. Many hoggers prefer to leave a “Mohican” style of stand up bristles in what is called a block cut.
Whether you choose to hog or not to hog, Totally Tack can advise you and we have the equipment you need. Talk to us today!