Horse Tail - Long and Healthy

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Tail Tips from Long Tail Ranch

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Dear Cherry,

    I have several of your books and have found them so helpful.  Please keep writing!  This question may sound silly but here goes. 

My mare has short dry hairs at the base of her tail, I want them long and lovely like the rest of her tail. I have her tail braided and bagged, she is on Equishine and 11% protein Purina grain product, grass pasture in the summer and quality hay in fall and winter. What do you do to keep the hairs at the base of the tail protected from sun damage and keep them growing? 

Thanks for the help - Alice


Hi Alice:

    Thanks for the letter and encouragement to continue writing.  As a matter of fact, I have six new books in the works!

    Regarding the short, dry hairs at the top of your horse's tail.  First of all, its pretty normal for the top hairs there to be shorter than the rest of the tail but if they are as short as bristles and dry, you can improve the situation and get them to grow out and lay down.

    Here are some things to think about, many of which you might already know and do but just to be sure, I'll be inclusive:

      Minimize brushing and combing

       Remove any reason for the horse to be rubbing her tail against a tree, post, building etc.  This includes making sure the skin of the dock is absolutely clean and rinsed well.

       Consider using a leave-in conditioner.

       If the skin of the dock seems to be especially dry and the hair slow growing, you could try rubbing in a tiny bit of Eqyss Mega-Tek cell rebuilder cream. This not only moisturizes the skin but also seems to encourage hair growth.

       Wash the udder or sheath so the horse is not trying to "itch" them by rubbing.

       Inspect the area around the tail head, anus, hindquarters and be sure there are no insects, fungus, awns, even slivers or anything else that could be causing the horse to rub (mares often rub when they are in heat).

       Are you using fly spray in that area - what are the ingredients? Could the fly spray be drying out the hair and/or causing rubbing?

       Does your horse wear a fly sheet when out on pasture?  If she wore a textilene fly sheet, it would protect against UV rays and cover the top portion of the tail.  All of my horses wear textilene fly sheets all summer and their coats don't bleach and the tops of their tails are always in great shape.

       There are also fly sprays and grooming products that contain sunscreen that might be helpful.


I'LL GLADLY SHARE THE SECRETS OF OUR "LONG TAIL RANCH"

    Visitors to our place marvel at the long, thick tails on every single one of our horses.  To keep my horses manes and tails long and healthy, I follow a 3 part program.

Your Horse Barn DVD    First I feed very good quality hay.  I pay particular attention to the quality of the hay as it is the mainstay of my horses' diet.   Every horse also receives SU-PER Farrier's Supplement daily.  It is a high quality, broad-spectrum nutritional supplement designed to accelerate hoof growth and improve the quality of the hoof horn.  Hair and hoof are made of similar materials, so it is no surprise that it also positively affects hair growth and condition.

    Second, I follow a specific grooming protocol.  I only bathe, brush, and comb the manes and tails when necessary.  When I do, I use products that I have found to be mane and tail friendly.  I only use brushes on long manes and tails, never a comb which tends to be difficult to use without breaking hairs.

I keep all tails banged (cut blunt) at a level no lower than the point of the fetlock when the horse's tail is relaxed and flat and hanging the longest.  (Instead of banging, you might prefer the look of a tapered tail.)  When I am tempted to let the tail grow longer than the fetlocks, invariable a horse steps on his tail when he is getting up from rolling and pulls out large long hunks.  When a tail is too long, I've seen horses remove large sections when backing up in a performance class or unloading from a trailer.  That's how a tail gets thin in a hurry!

During fly season I apply a natural botanical fly repellent to the horses' undersides where flies most often cause itching: on the belly ahead of the sheath or udder and high on the inside of the hind legs if necessary.

    Third, I put the tails up for the winter.  In fact, as soon as the last fly is gone in the fall.  I braid the tails and keep them braided until the first fly appears in the spring. In March or April, because of the high level of nutrition all winter and the protection of the braid, I usually101 Horsekeeping Tips DVD have to cut 4-6 inches off the tails in order to meet my point of the fetlock criteria.  With most horses, I have to cut off an additional 4" in July or August.  

I demonstrate how I put tails up in the fall and take them down in the spring in our video, 101 Horsekeeing Tips.

Cherry Hill   

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