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Tips for pretty tail!

I am hoping to get some tips for improving the look of my 5 yo OTTB’s tail. It is very long and full but has a ton of wispy broken hairs. I am largely to blame, as I was using show sheen to brush it out daily. I have only been brushing it once a week with diluted conditioner but I keep reading that brushing is bad? He lives out 24/7 and gets the dreadlock look going on which I hate. He also rubs the top of his tail like crazy and that area is starting to look terrible. When I look at the base of his tail, the ‘scalp’ looks very dry.
There is a lady at my barn that has a loose band on her horse’s tail that seems to help keep it from tangling, so was thinking of trying that.
I have also read about slathering the base in coconut oil.
I am adding ground flax to his diet as well.
Any tips and advice would be very helpful!

Hand pick the dreads out. If you must brush it use a human hair brush made with boar’s hair.

Use scalpicin on the tail base. Make sure he doesn’t have a problem with pinworms.

A tail not looking good can also occur due to diet. Make sure the horse is getting enough protein and vitamins and minerals. The flax seed is a great idea.

So, working for an arabian person for a long time - i learned a lot about tails. Eventually i had them so long and full that i would be halfway down the aisle braiding it up to go back in it’s bag!!

I have a TB now, and here are my tips for getting his tail long and full. Right now it is amazing!

  • No cowboy magic, show sheen, or any other thing of that sort EVER. It suffocates the hair follicle and will make it break more easily over the long run. It will look good for the day or two after you use it, but it’s really not good for the health of the hair. At all.

  • Stop brushing it. Seriously, cut it out. I shampoo when it’s dirty, maybe once a month. I do pick the shavings out, but beyond that, leave it alone.

  • Shampooing frequently is not your friend, either. When you do infrequently shampoo, then it is OK to brush out once the tail is lathered in conditioner. This is the only time i touch tail with brush. Shampoos strip out the natural oils along with everything else, most people add a lot of “stuff” after to replace these oils. It is a silly and unnecessary cycle. Natural oils are your friends, embrace them. Which leads me to my next point…

  • The coconut oil is great, but not at the base of the tail as you said. Try to avoid ever putting anything on the actual tailbone or near it. This area you want to give a nice massage when you are washing with a thimble full of shampoo, no more. Use your fingernails to get all the crusties out. When you are done - spend a good deal of time washing everything completely out of and away from the skin. Product residue can be irritating and encourage itching/rubbing back there, which is the enemy of long beautiful tails. When you use the oil - use again, just a thimble full, start around or just above the hocks and coat downward.

  • If he is still rubbing after you have ceased putting product on the dock of the tail, worm for pinworms. Sometimes horses will rub the tail because the sheath is dirty or irritated, so make sure this is tended to regularly. During your post workout hosing / brushing routine, check the anus and surrounding areas, including between the legs where the “butt sweat” accumulates for cleanliness and wipe with a clean warm washcloth (no product on it) if necessary.

  • Flax does help to grow the tail, along with a well balanced nutritionally sound diet, but preventing breakage via the above mentioned methods is really key. If the tail is breaking and brittle then it will just waste away faster than it can grow.

I wash tails either before a show or when I feel like it. I NEVER EVER brush them out unless they are going into the show ring. NEVER EVER. Ground flax helps with the itchies. I bang tails up to the bottom of the hock at this time of the year to keep them out of the mud as much as possible, and because I trail ride in the fall and winter. By April they are back down to the ground. I bang tails to the bottom of the pastern during the show season. My horses have full, long tails.

Genetics have a huge roll in how the tails are going to look.

I use a human conditioner and brush my horses tails about weekly (also have 24/7 turnout here). They all have full, luxurious tails. the big fat human brush doesn’t take out many hairs at all; hardly ever if the tail is conditioned on a regular basis. They often grow so long that I have to cut them. The only way I personally believe you can get away with not brushing it (when they are on full turnout) is to keep it in a tail bag/braid and I’m too lazy for that. Otherwise like you said, they get dreads/burrs/other nasties caught up in the tail, which isn’t good for it either.

You need to get to the bottom of the rubbing - usually it’s a medical problem. Sweet itch may be the culprit (check the belly - are there bare spots/rubs there also?). This is an allergy to culicoides. Sheath cleaning, pinworms are also possible culprits as others have said.

And white tails? My mare’s tail gets stained with urine and mud, and unless I wash and bag it there is no way it is presentable. Has anyone found a product that is not silicone based to prevent stains? Any of the oil treatments make the situation worse with a gray- they are dirt magnets!

If you are getting burrs in the tail, the pasture is not being maintained properly. The weeds should be mowed down to keep the pasture healthy.

Manahmanah has it right. I worked as a Morgan show groom for a while and echo everything she said. Especially about simply just leaving it alone! I only brush and wash the tail before a show. If you’re really nuts about keeping it clean, you can braid it and put it up with vetwrap (I can explain how if you’re interested), but when I do that I again don’t touch it for months. But I only put it up when my horse’s tails got long enough to touch/drag on the ground.

Thanks so much for the advice! I will just leave it alone, he will probably be happier that way too! I am not showing this winter, so will try washing it periodically if it starts driving me crazy. Also will clean his sheath this weekend and the vet is coming for shots, so I will ask her to check for pinworms. Hopefully the flax will help with natural oils. Thanks all!

I practice benign neglect, meaning I do nothing unless they are going to be on display for some reason. When I need them looking good, I wash with Lucky Braids shampoo, spray with Canter Mane and Tail, and COMB with a wide tooth comb, from bottom to top. I can comb a tail out and not lose a single hair using this method. During the winter, I treat the shorter tails that I am trying to grow with MTG once a week. This regimen works very well for me.


Please explain how to “treat” a tail with this product.

I have a horse who doesn’t have a lot of hairs in his tail, but most of them are long so it looks thicker than it is.

I brush and condition. I always brush the dock and the last 12" of the tail skirt even if I don’t do a full brushing out. I trim 4-6" off the tail about four times a year. Like someone else mentioned, at this time of year I trim it shorter (top of fetlocks) to keep it out of the mud. Once he’s wearing his rainsheet full time I give the tail one last shampoo, condition it well (I use a human anti-breakage conditioner), braid it and bag it for the winter. I wait until he’s wearing the blanket because I don’t want the braided tail to get soaked. I take the braid out, mist the tail with water, recondition, brush out, and rebraid/bag every 3-4 weeks or so. I usually leave it unbraided while I ride and put it back up afterwards.

In the spring the braid comes out and I just spray it with Healthy Haircare 2-3 times a week, and brush it when I groom. When the relaxed tail touches the ground when he cocks a hind foot I trim it to mid/low fetlock height without lifting his tailbone. I’ve found that brushing the tail every day means it tangles less, and fewer hairs get caught on things and ripped out. Trimming the end keeps it out of the dirt and mud.

The last 8" of his tail braid was thinner than a pencil when I started this routine. It’s been as thick as two of my fingers at the end for years now.

My first horse’s tail had had a hatchet job done on it before I got him, and not knowing any differently I combed it out every day. If I did it every day it was easy to comb out. And it grew back nicely.

I tried benign neglect on another horse I had later, but it didn’t work. His tail stayed stubbornly, raggedly short. It didn’t work in my situation, but does work for others.

Yes, but all this advice applies to a dark tail. If I practise benign neglect on my mare’s WHITE tail it turns nicotine stain brown with mud splashes, and I’ll NEVER get it white for show season! Has anyone found a way of sealing a white tail so it doesn’t stain, or is a ‘tail product’ like show sheen the only option?

Please explain how to “treat” a tail with this product.[/QUOTE]
Meh. You are supposed to massage it onto the dock to promote growth. Since it violates my rule of not leaving product on the dock I don’t use it. I have tried it, though. I didn’t find it useful for doing anything but making me smell bad and creating a greasy mess.

Keep it up. One of the reasons I will never own an animal with a white tail. :slight_smile:

I am working on a trail improvement plan myself. NO brushing. Every few days I douse the tail with diluted condition, baby oil or cocoa butter, and the pink stuff. It IS improving!

I bathe the tail and scrub the dock every week or every other week but I am gentle with the hair when I do that.

I have a grey mare and if you aren’t looking for a silicone based product maybe try spraying the ends with Cowboy Magic Green Spot remover or something? A quick google search has had me come up with the following silicone free products: Absorbine Santa Fe coat conditioner, Eqyss Survivor, Canter Mane and Tail (I believe)…
My horses tail is yellow stained, and the method I use when it isn’t show season is just bagging it and leaving it.

I now avoid buying horses with white tails…pain in the arse!!! You just have to wash it regularly and use QuickSilver (leave it in for 10 minutes) before the show. I swear, though, that all the washing makes it more porous and prone to staining…

Yes, but all this advice applies to a dark tail. If I practise benign neglect on my mare’s WHITE tail it turns nicotine stain brown with mud splashes, and I’ll NEVER get it white for show season! Has anyone found a way of sealing a white tail so it doesn’t stain, or is a ‘tail product’ like show sheen the only option?[/QUOTE]

I’ll wash the tail with something like Why Itch by B3 since it doesn’t strip the natural oils. Run argan or coconut oil through the skirt, braid it loosely, loop it through itself a few times, put a cotton sock over it, then vetwrap over the sock (run a little vetwrap through the braid so it stays in, and use white vetwrap so you don’t stain the tail). Basically a slight variation of putting the tail up saddlebred style. I like putting a sock in there as it’s gentler on the tail.