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Tips for pretty tail!

Gonna go against the grain here…

I inherited a horse with a pitiful tail. Seriously, laughable. It was down to just his hocks, thin and scraggly, and that was with “benign neglect.” Within the first year, it was down to his fetlocks (at which point I trim it to keep it from getting stepped on), and starting to thicken. It’s now presentable. He doesn’t have a very thick tail naturally (not a ton of hair on his tailbone, and a thin mane, too), so it’s about as good as it can get.

My plan with tails is to keep them tangle-free. If you leave it down and don’t touch it, you’re going to get stuff tangled and that’s what the hair gets broken or pulled out. So I use detangler once every week or two, whenever it starts to get tangled up, and BRUSH from bottom to top, usually in 2-4" sections (bottom 4" of tail brushed out, move my hand up a few inches, brush it out, repeat).

I don’t believe in tail bags, because you’re basically creating the tangles that cause breakage. I think it takes may more work to keep a tail healthy and full in a bag versus loose. But that’s just my experience, maybe other folks don’t mind rebraiding that often.

Two products that are NOT oil based - actually water based
but do a fabulous job are

Straight Arrow Detangler
Carr&Day&Martin Canter Mane and Tail Detangler

Spray on - wait about 5 minutes and brush thru

they really work well and we use on a super thick, dreadlock-y, manure gunky draft cross tail

if you start at the bottom and work your way up you work out the tangles and can brush straight thru

there is really NOT SMELL like many of the products out there

and since they are spray-on you don’t get your hands all gunky applying to the tail

LOVE the Straight Arrow which is the cheaper of the two products

the place we winter board uses the Canter on their 6 white tailed Iberian horses

Thanks, all. I have just finished washing my mares still yellowish with quik silver- once to get the dirt out and then left the second application of shampoo on for 10 minutes. Then I dissolved some OxiClean bleach in hot water and dunked the skirt in for about 5 minutes. Rinsed that out, conditioned with a human gray hair conditioner, rinsed THAT out and applied a leave-in conditioner. Then I applied a silicone based detangler while wet. (On the advice of someone who said if you put the silicone on wet it doesnt make the hair brittle. Well see) When tail was dry, I put it in a 3 tube tail bag- ties below the dock, skirt divided into 3 and tube pulled over each section. That was braided, elastic at the bottom and the braid (in the bag) doubled up and wrapped a couple of times with electrical tape. Then I had to explain to my husband why I was STILL at the barn! Whew! That sucker is staying in the bag for a while now! I will never get another gray mare! Ill try the other suggested products next time I wash it.
I tried the sock and vetwrap trick last winter and had a nasty clump of muddy sock and soggy vetwrap over a dirty tail. We`ll see if this method is anymore successful

I will admit to not having read most of hte replies above…

My personal horses are turned out 24/7 with access to their stalls. I wash tails with suave and condition them with any conditioner, then rinse and dry. I NEVER brush a dirty or wet tail! When dry, I brush carefully , braid (not tight, not loose. Even tension) as far down as I possibly can, then use a rubber brand to secure. The rubber band may cause some breakage, so braid dcown as far as you possibly can. Leave shorter hairs out of the braid. Then, using tailbags made of NFL lycra made by Missstinkysmom on Ebay (in custom longer length - very inexpensive - about $3 - $4 - and will last you at least 5 years) I bag the tail. I put tails up in October and do not touch them until March or April. After that, I wash them about once every 4 - 6 weeks during the summer and put them back up. I do use flysheets to minimize swishing. My Arabian mare’s tail drags about 2 feet and I cut 9" off per year. It is bright white. When braided, it is so thick that the braid is about 3" - 4" across.

I like to keep tangles/dreds out as much as possible, and my mare’s got a thick tail that likes to tangle in the breeze. Here’s what I do…

Human conditioner (I like Suave with Keratin Infusion), mixed with water in a spray bottle (kind of thin…enough to spray and not clog up the nozzle).

Soak the tail with the spray.

Grasp tail with my hands and work conditioner through it completely. I do this by holding up near the bone and splitting the tail in two between my hands. I will almost inevitably be splitting one of the dreds, so I just slowly work my way down the tail until it’s totally split in two. Drop it, start over again, splitting in a different spot and working down to the tips. Do this over and over…

Leave it alone.

I’ll do the above about once or twice a week. The large bottle of conditioner (which I think is something like $4.98 at Wally world) has lasted me since April (and I’m needing a new one now).

Mare’s tail is GORGEOUS! I also rub her body down with a towel at every groom and I’ll use the towel to sweep down her tail as well (wrap it around the bone then rub straight down to spread oils and make it shiny).