Talk to Me of Tails

Provided I can workout what’s going on with my mare in the trailer, I have planned several dressage shows for us this year (she was previously a jumper). I just clipped her this past weekend and trimmed up her mane, but wasn’t sure what the typically dressage tail looked like. Do we braid? Pull/ clip? Leave it natural? I did bang the bottom because a grey that hasn’t had proper baths in a little over 2 years = severely stained tail.

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My understanding is tails are not braided for dressage. Some are banged but you need to make sure it hangs nice raised in motion. A very thick tail banged very low looks nice to me but I don’t like shorter or thinner tails banged, or banged too high. Other than that, natural.


I don’t think anyone cares as long as it’s neat and clean. I usually bang the tail, and the length depends. I bang it shorter during mud/wet season. I don’t think anyone really notices. If there are untidy hairs you can neaten the top if you wish.


While I have only shown dressage once (last year, first show ever), I did groom for my kids who have shown dressage since 1980s. We always braided manes (I saw “we” but it was generally me until the kiddos got old enough to do it themselves.) Tails we left clean and beautifully combed. We did make a neat trim along the bottom --a square cut. Some dressage people pull or clip the sides of the dock --I find this unattractive --and probably painful to the horse if it is pulled. When the youngest kid showed upper level, we did braid tails --there was a famous dressage rider showing with a braided tail, and my kid thought I needed more to do before classes. Since we also showed h/j, I knew how to braid a beautiful tail.

Fast forward 10 years to me showing by myself (my one and only dressage show). I said, “heck with the braiding stuff!” I gave the black/bay gelding a wash, trimmed the end of his tail, braided his meager forelock, then roached his mane. He looks great high and tight!


Straight, even cut along the bottom as close to ground as you can and trimmed, clipped, neat at the base.

when you bang the tail, make. sure to take a few videos of him/her going and check how s/he carries her tail. Then Roll up a towel and place under to raise her tail to the right height or your bang job won’t be flat across.


That’s what I do. I use a polo wrap to raise the tail.


I vote for a banged tail.
Raising the tail before cutting is a necessary step & the polo or towel will do that.
Less work for you as manes - if not roached - s/b at least taped, if not braided.

I roach because “somebody” grazes through my fence & does this - the Equine Combover :smirk:



Hey fellow hunter/ jumper turned dressage person! I just bang my horse’s like a jumper and it looks good. I do my own jumper braids for dressage as well.


Agree with all and want to add…resist the urge to use a fake tail. Unless expensive and flawlessly fitted they look horrible and do not drape right or move well. When too thick they cover the horse’s hocks and judges will get annoyed at that.


If the dock is a little untidy, resist the urge to pull or clip- that only perpetuates the problem. I hate the look of it growing out! After washing the tail, I slather the dock area of the tail with gel and wrap til dry. It stays nice and smooth if you can leave the tail bandage on til you get to the show. I agree with the other comments about trimming the end square.


I always do a neat trim, about fetlock level, depending on how full the bottom of the tail is. However, I never prop the tail up to mimic how he carries his tail under saddle. I just make sure he is standing square behind.

I’m just small potatoes but I never notice a difference between his tail at shows and other properly banged tails. As my trainer says: “Hard to see on a galloping horse!” :laughing:


I tidy up the ends, sort of a bang, and other than that, its the battle of white. :smiley: Its way to lovely to mess with…


Use this stuff on the tail

I haven’t shown for a long time and my horse’s tail has some yellowish areas but I don’t worry about them other than washing well (2x) then conditioning. I bang it but I don’t do anything with the top of the tail. It used to be that the top should be pulled but I never did that and don’t do it now. I am not sure if that is still a ‘thing’.

It isn’t too bad. For showing I would definitely treat it with the white minx rinse.


Roux Fanciful White Minx rinse was the ne plus ultra of H/J barns back in the day. You can still find it at Sally’s.


I like to bang the tail and trim the top (but I don’t pull it). I do it with scissors, but I know some people use clippers. I trim along the sides at the top—-but only about 4-5 inches from the base. I do think it looks neater. One of our horses tails is all bushy at the top (thin and sad at the bottom) so his is a real challenge to “fluff” up and not have the bushy top look like a bad mop top.


Yes that Roux is fairly easy to find. I have gone thru it over the showing years. Said almost white horse is 21 and though still in work, we are not motivated to show. But I do still work on the tail!


Just ordered that Roux! Thanks!
Tails…I have one without a tail!

one of the new horses i’m training now is a curly…she has very little mane and a foal tail (she’s 4) If she ends up in dressage training with me and my coach, and IF she ever shows …she’s gonna look ‘unique’ LOL. I’d probably go western as she’s an overo, half-baldface, three stockings and large bootay. She just LOOKS western. OOoooooo and does she ever have attitude! lol.


This. I take a few inches off in the fall and feel like that helps it stay nicer and fuller at the bottom, and it is always plenty long by show season (well, then there is my retired 17H gelding whose tail needs several inches cut a couple times a year so it doesn’t drag on the ground, despite doing absolutely nothing with it).

After reading this thread I was looking at my warmblood’s tail while lunging her last night and I can see the point with lifting the tail to bang it, but I don’t think it makes much difference at all. My QH carries her tail pretty flat, so definitely no difference for her.


I have to whack off about 3 inches at least 3x/year. I always do more in the fall before I bag it as otherwise, it ends up all curled in the bag at the bottom because the bag isn’t long enough.
My horse has a different tail…it is very thick…bone and all and the hair is quite coarse. I have never been able to get a wrap to stay on it. The coarse hair just pops the wrap off after a day or two. I think her hair has muscle in it :rofl:. But damned, it likes to grow. She looks best (I think) with her banged tail just at the top of her fetlock. It is ready for a new bang job in that picture I posted.