We normally don’t think about the tails of other animals. However, if you are a horse-lover or own a horse yourself, you may think quite a lot about your horse’s tail.
The tails of horses are truly majestic. Have you ever noticed the effortlessness with which they swish it back and forth? Horses look so much better when they have a nice full tail. Of course, tails aren’t everything.
Let’s explore some important information about your horse’s tail.
The Horse’s Tail Bone
Many of us think that horse tails are just tufts of long hair, much like the hair that grow on our scalp. This, however, is not true. Horses do not have their tail hair growing directly off their rear ends.
Do Horse Tails Have Bone? Just like dogs, elephants and giraffes, horses do have a tail bone that provides the core structure on which the tails grow. In fact, the tail bone allows horses to move their tails as and when they desire. Horse tails are, in a way, extensions of their spine.
The horse’s tail consists of bone, muscle and nerves. They can effortlessly cause their tail to swish back and forth. In fact, tail movement can also tell you a lot about a horse’s current mood. An excited horse might elevate it’s tail. In Arabian horses, they will sometimes even curve it backward towards their head. An irritated horse might swish their tail in annoyance.
In some breeds of horses, the tail bone is docked. It is also sometimes removed due to injury. In fact, one of the biggest reasons a horse might have a short or docked tail is due to improperly applied tail wraps.
Tales of Tails
If you notice animals like donkeys and zebras, you might assume that they are closely related to horses, and they are. However, after one good look at their tails, you will realize that the tails of horses are very different.
While donkeys and zebras have tails that end with a tuft of hair, horse tails are much more voluminous. Mules and hinny’s, hybrids between horses and donkeys, will almost always inherit the beautiful, full tail from their horse parent.
Grooming and Maintenance
Horses should be groomed regularly to ensure coat health. It’s also a great way to bond with them. When it comes to the horses tail, proper care is needed to help the tail reach it’s fullest potential. In almost all breeds, a long, thick tail is highly desirable.
If your horse has a tail that hasn’t been brushed in a while, it may need to be detangled. Depending on the severity, that could be quite a project. Check out my article on Detangling A Severely Matted Horse Tail for my favorite tail detangling tips.
Once a horse’s tail has been detangled, brushing it regularly can help it stay in good condition. Some equestrians use a mane and tail brush, others swear by finger combing the tail to minimize breakage as much as possible. Whichever method you choose, you may want to consider using a natural conditioner like coconut oil regularly to keep the tail moisturized.
Needless to say, the quality of diet also affects the health and appearance of the hair on the tail and the mane of horses. It is important to ensure good nutrition for your horse, so that its tail becomes the hallmark of its good health and great spirit. There are a variety of feed companies that manufacture supplements that are particularly aimed at helping to encourage mane and tail growth. If you are having trouble keeping your horse’s tail looking great, you may want to check out what is available at your local feed store and see if it helps.
How To Brush A Horse’s Tail
1. Detangle Any Knots
If your horse’s tail has knots, use your favorite detangling product to remove any tangles. Before you brush the tail you want to make sure to get out any large knots that might be in there. You can even make your own DIY detangling spray at home (check out my favorite recipes here).
2. Apply Conditioning Spray Through Tail
If you checked out my post on detangling a matted tail, I list all of my favorite horse care products. If you did need to use a detangler in the previous step, you may not need to apply any additional product at this stage.
To apply the conditioning spray, I like to pick up part of my horses tail and hold it horizontal to the ground. When I lift the tail I allow the tail hairs to kind of waterfall down as I spray. This ensures good coverage before I start trying to brush it out.
3. Start Brushing from the Bottom Up
It’s my personal opinion that it doesn’t really matter what tool you use to brush your horse’s tail, any tool can cause hair breakage. What matters is how you use it. The slower you go and the more careful you are, the more likely you are going to be able to minimize tail hair breakage.
Gather all of your horse’s hair into your hand. Starting from the bottom, expose a couple of inches and then clamp your hand around the top tightly. Use your brush to brush out this small section and then start working your way up.
As you get higher up on your horse’s tail, you will need to start breaking the horse’s tail into smaller sections to make sure it is brushed thoroughly. Just work on one section at a time. Very thick tails will require more sections than thinner tails.
4. Braid or Bag Your Horse’s Tail (If Desired)
If you are planning on using a tail bag, you will want to braid your horse’s tail. Remember to always start your braid at least one inch below the tail bone. Feel for your horses tail bone before you make your sections then start about an inch down. It doesn’t have to be exact, you just want to make sure the braid doesn’t cover the bone.
Once you reach the end of the tail, secure it with a small rubberband. I typically also wrap it with a piece of electrical tape to help it stay in place longer. Then thread the horses tail into the tail bag and fasten.
Do horses like their hair braided? Some horses really enjoy the grooming process and having their mane and tail braided. Others may be uncomfortable with you in that area because they can’t see well directly behind them. It is best to start slowly and gauge your horses behavior.
How fast does a horse’s tail grow? The rate at which a horse’s tail grows is going to vary depending on a wide variety of factors including genetics, nutrition and environment.