Got a wispy, fine tail you want to be luxurious and flowing? Unsure about how to pull or cut the top of your horse’s tail for that nice, trim look?
Liv Gude of Pro Equine Grooms has the answers!
No Magic Potion
“My draft-cross has a thin tail. There is nice growth at the top, working its way down. Slowly. I would really like to try to continue and encourage growth. I do not brush the tail, but I pick it gently. I tried bagging it, but he got it undone, multiple times. Are there any products to use at the dock area? I have heard mineral oil, but, what would an expert suggest?”
Tails, manes and overall hair quality are a result of good nutrition, overall health, good grooming practices, genetics, and environment. There is no magic potion in a bottle that can make tails grow. In fact, many things that are petroleum-based (like mineral oil) inhibit oxygen from interacting with the skin and therefore can inhibit hair growth.
That being said, many magic potions in a bottle CAN help you keep the tail hairs that your horse already has. A common tail enemy is tangles and snags, and detanglers and conditioners can keep the tail hair snag-free, thus preventing breakage and tearing. Many tail products also create a great shine, which we all love. Tail bags are great at keeping snags and tears out of tails, but I suggest you undo them every day to inspect the tail. They should never be secured over the tail bone, and if your horse manages to undo them, it's likely that he will do more damage with a tail bag than without.
You will also need to decide if you are in the “manage every day” or “never touch it” camp of tail maintenance. If your horse's tail is typically clean every single day, you can try the picking by hand method when needed. If your horse lives outside and thinks mud is his BFF, you will likely need to do daily tail care to avoid major disasters. In this case, a great detangler will be your greatest help.
Feeding your horse a high quality and balanced diet is key to successful tail growth. You must have the right nutrients in the proper amounts for things to happen. Also know that too much of a good thing is not always a better thing, as too much selenium can lead to hair loss. Create a properly balanced diet with the help of your veterinarian or equine nutritionist and consider the following nutrients: omega fatty acids, copper, zinc, iodine, lysine, methionine, biotin. These are all supportive of a healthy mane, tail, and coat in the correct balance. Also know that there are many factors that go into the creation of a complete diet, such as hay type and quality, soil conditions, access to pasture, exercise level, metabolic issues, and overall health, just to name a few.
From a grooming angle, you can bang the bottom of the tail with scissors to create one straight line across the bottom. This makes the tail appear fuller, and in most cases you only need to remove a 1/2 inch or so of tail hair to make a drastic difference. Before you do this, study how your horse holds his tail while he's moving freely and under saddle. Many horses hold their tails out a bit, or a lot. When you bang the tail, mimic this tail position by putting a crop or polo wrap under the tail bone before you bang with scissors. When he's moving, this will create a tail bottom that is parallel to the ground.
Less Is More
|Trimming the top of the tail can help|
flatter the muscles of the
Photo by Molly Sorge
“I need clear, step-by-step instructions on how to trim the top of the tail for dressage and eventing—both by pulling it and trimming it with scissors.”
Trimming the top of a horse’s tail creates a polished look, and also enhances the shape of their hind end. It's a standard grooming practice in most dressage and eventing barns, and can be done with scissors, clippers (for the well practiced tail trimmer) and even by pulling, as you would pull a mane. Here are some step-by-step guidelines for you:
-Have a friend help you. This is to make sure your horse will tolerate you working back there, because you will be in the strike zone for kicks. Stand as close as possible to your horse just in case.
-Go slowly and remove less than you think; you can always remove more hair, but you can’t put it back! In terms of surface area, you will remove the hairs on the side of the tail from the top of the tail bone to just below the most prominent point of the hindquarter. You will only need to remove the hairs so that the “naked” part is about 1/2 to 1 inch wide, and the trimmed area should narrow the further you go down the tail bone. It should create a crescent shape.