We have all been there. It gets to the spring, we want to start going to shows and alas the carefully rugged horse is missing half his mane. Every single day we see a post on various horse Facebook groups asking questions along the lines of How do I make a mane grow? How can I stop a neck cover rubbing? Simple answer: Take the blooming neck cover off.
Lets get one thing straight. Neck covers were invented for humans. In fact, rugs were as well. Horses managed plenty well enough without a rug for millions of years before we came along and started interfering with their natural coats. While we will admit, every single one of our horses (Apart from Matilda) has a rug on, a neck cover will only ever grace our horses twice a year maximum. If the weather is that grim they will have a duvet day and stand in their boxes.
Neck covers have only become a new fad in the last 10 years, we remember buying our first none-canvas rug about 20 odd years ago – Don’t forget a New Zealand Rug back then was made from canvas, was very heavy and lined with wool. There was no such thing as a neck cover for horses and you know what, they dealt with life just fine without one.
So let’s get to the science of it (In simple terms): Horses lose heat mainly through their quarters and lumbar region. A horse who is eating long fibre feedstuffs such as hay produces heat from their own internal radiator system. A neck cover is not going to make a huge amount of difference to the internal temperature of a horse, it will, however, keep said horse cleaner, while removing said chunks of said mane, most of which is removed from over-heating… That’s it.
The simple part of it is, if you want a mane, get rid of the neck cover. Your mane will not magically grow back and in some severe cases, may never grow back due to damage to the hair follicle. Patch is a great example of this, you may not notice it when she is plaited up but she has a section about 8″ long that is only just plaitable – One reason for her having smaller plaits this year, to disguise this loss in hair mass.
Just take them off!