No butts about it: A long, full tail on a horse looks so pretty. And not just pretty, it’s also very functional, because it acts like a built-in fly swatter for the horse (ever been swished in the face by a tail? It hurts). Genetics play a big part in how long a horse can grow it’s tail (or mane or forelock), but diet also plays a very important factor, as well. Think about it, a horse not getting the proper nutrients can’t absorb the right materials needed for cellular growth (and regrowth) to happen in the hair follicles.

So, if your horse has a fantastically amazing tail, how do you care for it to make sure that it stays the envy of the paddock? Here’s a run down of things you should do, and not do, to keep that tail looking fabulous.

  • Contrary to popular belief, the tail does not need to be brushed every day (or every ride) with a comb or hairbrush. If there are shavings in the tail, you can pick them out with your fingers (like finger combing your own hair). You can also use a medium or soft body brush to gently flick things out of the strands or get rid of mud or dirt.
  • When you do brush the tail, it’s very important that you a) spray the tail with some kind of detangler and work it in before you go to town with your brush and b) start at the bottom of tail and work your way up. This allows you to work tangles out, rather than just breaking the strands of hair (we don’t like having split ends, why would our horses?).
  • If you’re using a detangler or leave-in conditioner, make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol, because that will actually dry the strands of hair out and cause them to turn brittle and break.
  • Tails do need to be washed, though again, not as frequently as you may think. When you wash the tail, make sure to start at the dock (the bone of the tail) and work your way down. Make sure the dock isn’t flaky and your horse doesn’t look like its been rubbing its tail (that can be a sign of worms). Thoroughly wash the shampoo away (if the dock later feels gummy or gunky, there’s a good chance the tail wasn’t rinsed as thoroughly as it should have been). Apply conditioner, let it sit for a few minutes to soak in, then wash it away, too.