Getting a tail into A+ condition, and maintaining it, takes some effort; however, the results are truly worth it! Picture you and your horse coming down the center line with a FABULOUS, full, swinging tail. It just punctuates your turnout!
If you are starting fresh with a very unkempt tail (hairs matted to the tailbone) you will likely have to sacrifice some hair to get that tail on the ‘right track.’ Once you have the tail under control, life gets much simpler!
- Hand pick debris from the tail.
- Wash with Banixx Medicated Shampoo, which is loaded with marine collagen as a moisturizer and conditioner. Be sure to wash the dock (boney part) of the tail too! Banixx Medicated Shampoo is particularly helpful to resolve unhealthy skin and the dock of the tail. (I find that using a bucket with soap and water to dunk the tail in allows me to get the tail saturated and down to the skin). Use caution and keep safety as your priority if you do this–you don’t want to surprise your horse.
- Rinse well.
- While the tail is still wet, saturate with a conditioner (equine specific or human hair conditioner), use your fingers to work through some of the tangles, then finish up with a thick toothed comb, carefully working from the bottom of the tail to the top, to avoid losing precious hair. This step may need to be repeated if you have a nasty, problem tail.
- Once the tail is dry, work on any remaining tangles with your fingers, and massage in a leave-in conditioner.
OK, now you have that fabulous tail — how do you maintain it? Nope, not the Tail Fairy – sorry! But here are some tips ….
- Hand pick out bedding, grass, pine straw, weeds, etc.
- With a soft brush and or small towel clean the underside of the dock of your horse’s tail, and with your hands check the dock of the tail. This accomplishes a few things — One, this is the quickest way to find ticks and other insect bites/issues. Two, the dirt and dander that accumulates under the dock of the tail causes the horse to itch … and scratch/rub out his tail.
Weekly or every two weeks
- Wash the tail and be sure to get the dock of the tail clean. The frequency of this will depend on how dirty your horse gets.
- With your hands, work a leave-in conditioner throughout the tail, starting at the dock of the tail and working down to remove tangles
Prior to a competition
- Wash, condition and work out any tangles with your fingers. Allow the tail to dry. Don’t allow your horse to roll while the tail is still wet, it will attract and hold grime much more easily.
- Spray with a leave-in conditioner that does not build up/feel ‘thick’ on the tail hairs.
- Trim, cut and/or pull for a final preparation.
Wrapping or bagging a tail – An avenue to grow or preserve a tail is to wrap or bag it. If you choose this option (or want to test it), allow your horse to get used to this before attempting to ride him with his tail wrapped or bagged – or you might get a big surprise when he smacks himself with the wrap. Any bands/ties to contain the tail should cloth coated and not have metal (like the people hair bands).
Take the tail down (out of the bag) every few days otherwise the tail will suffer damages from being tied up for too long.
Lotions and potions – Stay away from oily lotions and potions in sunny conditions as they will burn the hair and attract dirt.
Bleached/discolored hair – Let those hairs grow out, or strategically clip them off (in moderation) or dye them. If you want to attempt to dye the tail to address bleached hair, proceed with caution. Use gloves, separate out the hair you want to dye (test a small area first) and apply the hair dye with a toothbrush. Be sure to read and follow the package instructions.
And with this easy tail maintenance regime, go for it! Just trot down that center line and WOW the other competitors right along with the Judge!