Tail-grooming tips

Even if your schedule doesn’t include any events where looks matter, time tending to your horse's tail is well spent.

Your horse’s tail is more than ornamental—it’s an effective fly swatter. So even if your schedule doesn’t include any events where looks matter, time tending to his tail is well spent. Here are four tips for keeping your horse’s tail fabulously full:

Never brush a wet tail. Allow it to dry completely and use a wide-toothed comb, working from the bottom up.

1. Detangle by hand. Pulling a comb through snarls will break more hairs than it frees. Saturate tangles with a silicon-based grooming spray and work the knots out carefully by hand. Resist the urge to reach for the scissors, even when confronted with tough tangles. Take a break if you need to and go back to work with more grooming spray later.

Click here to learn 5 ways to protect your horse’s skin.

2. Don’t brush a wet tail. Soaked strands will stretch and break, leaving a tail looking ragged. After washing a tail, use a leave-in conditioner or detangler and allow it to dry completely. Then use a wide-toothed comb on the tail, working from the bottom up with extreme patience.

3. Investigate if you see signs of rubbing. Check the underside of the tail for ticks, skin crusting and general griminess. A good cleaning of that area might relieve the itchiness. Some mares will rub their tails if their udders are dirty, so carefully check there as well. Parasites, particularly pinworms, are also a possible cause of itching. Call your veterinarian if you suspect that might be the case.

4. Consider tail protection. Tail bags and braided-in wraps can help keep your horse’s tail clean and protected, but make sure any tail gear you use doesn’t limit his fly-swatting ability. Experiment with several types to find one your horse doesn’t mind swishing around, but still stays in place.  

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