Monday, August 24, 2009

Would you like paper or plastic?

While we are on the subject of tails and caring for them- some people subscribe to tail wraps, pouches, bags and all sorts of other options to getting or keeping them long and beeyootifull.

Each of the following items and pictures are from and available through Schneider's. First we have the tail pouch, in a pack of 6 for $11.95. I recall they used to come with strings on the bottom as well for use against flies.

Then there are also the braid in tail bags for $8.99 each

and the plain old Lycra tail bag- pkg of 3 for $12.95.

For the pesky, hard to protect tails, there is also the Dura-Tech Padded Full Length Tail Wrap- for $9.95

Now I understand that some people absolutely love those ground dragging tails, some horses are capable of growing. They are pretty, but many times at that length, they are quite thin. Dragging the ground behind the horse just means all your work to keep it clean and grow it out, just went out the window as it picks up debris and dirt. I thought you would appreciate that...

For reiners, it is not as described by the self professed hair growing guru in the last post. Spinning and backing presents opportunities for the horse to step on and pull hair out of their tails. JR's mare was spinning one night and ripped out a huge chunk of hers. Her tail is really thick so it was nowhere near visible or noticeable, but it must have hurt a lot because her attitude and willingness to spin suddenly changed. There on the ground was a huge wad of her tail hair. We tied her tail up so spinning could be ended on a good note and meant no more pain for her.

Cutters too face the risk of being down in the dirt while working a cow and stepping on their tail. For some horses- that can mean a moment or more of lost concentration. Anything can happen and it may result in you losing a few points. Don't think that makes riders happy, because sometimes even just one point can mean the matter of being in the money or not.

Backing any horse also leaves the door wide open for those long tails to get stepped on, pulled and cause some degree of pain. Since pretty much every discipline requires backing at some point- it could and does happen. Why raise the potential to cause your horse pain for doing what is asked of them? Think they would be so willing to do it again, just because you ask it of them?

The other problem I have seen with tail bags, wraps and various treatments people use is the way they are applied. I have dealt with and seen the results of tail wraps and pouches applied too tightly around the dock of the tail. If left on this way long enough, you are cutting off circulation and the tail can certainly fall completely off below that point. Surely, those are Not the wondrous results you or your horse hoped for.

When people go the route of braid in or otherwise attached tail bags, sometimes they don't make any effort to look at the tail. You still have to take care of it. Out of sight, should not mean out of mind. Check for dryness in the hair itself. If it is getting too dry, take it out and wash it, use conditioner and maybe leave the bag off for a while. Wash the tail bag too. It can collect dirt or bedding inside of it leaving the tail in a constant state of gunk. Would you wrap your own hair up with dirt? I'm not thinking many people would...

Dry hairs can become brittle and then breakage happens easily. I have seen dry, ignored tails come completely off. Leaving behind only what was not in the bag. That's something any of us look forward to either.

I am not against wrapping, tail bags or otherwise containing tails, but if you choose to use any of these products, please just inform yourself and be aware of what is going on with your horses tail. Things can and do happen, that you may not expect. Tail bags and wraps can get caught on fencing, latches, plants and all sorts of things you might not expect. The results of that are missing pieces if not the whole tail and pulled hairs, equalling pain for the horse. They just want to rid themselves of flies, a painfully destroyed tail is not their intent.

CCC on the last post mentioned her horse rubbing her tail. I will get pictures of my red mares tail, as it is coming back (Finally!) and if she would like to send pictures of hers, I will gladly address that as the next topic. It's a good one as many of us either have or will, at some point be faced with the issue.


  1. Don't forget the good old Tube Sock tail wrap!!

  2. Would that be like when I put up the Baroque mare tail because it was a little on the thin side as she kept leaving huge hanks of it on the fencing?
    No bag.
    And for got about it for a bit?
    And ended up having to cut off what I had been trying to save?

    That sucked.

    I don't want to see a tail past the fetlock myself.

  3. Does any one have instructions on how to put up an old fashioned mud tail/knot? I haven't seen one in donkey's years, since the 1970's in fact. They were a dreadful nuisance to put up and I only ever learned the theory.

    In England back in the day many horses had "banged" tails. Cut straight across at hock level. The top of the dock to about 2/3 the way down the tail bone was pulled hair free on the sides. Looked a little odd to my eyes.
    The English also had this odd practice of taking a burlap bag full of straw, soaking it in water then whacking it against the horse on the butt, shoulders and neck. It was suppose to tone their muscles up.
    I never tried it. I read that it was done to Jay Trump (oh, around 1965) with disastrous results.

  4. Well... horse people everywhere WILL come up with weird methods, won't they?

    I remember a photo spread some years ago in ... Equus? PH? that demonstrated a correct mud knot.

    Fetlocks is QUITE long enough for a tail!! It will also hang prettier and look fuller IMO.

  5. "The English also had this odd practice of taking a burlap bag full of straw, soaking it in water then whacking it against the horse on the butt, shoulders and neck. It was suppose to tone their muscles up."

    And it did, and it does. It's called "strapping".
    Any horse, once gently conditioned to it, will love it, done properly. Better than massage, and brings out the bloom on their coat.
    Really, really. It's like sacking, with a full sack. No, you do NOT hurt the horse, doing it. They love it.
    It involves work for the human of course, so it's fallen out of fashion.

    Great post, CNJ, and you answered my question.
    No reason, except for our eye's pleasure.

    Mud tails are loosely braided down to the end, and then there are a wide variety of ways to fold them back, up and secure them.

    Makes more sense to keep a tail just long enough to be effective against flies, and not so long to be a danger to the horse.

  6. Kaede- I will dig around for mud knot instructins and add that when I post about braiding for shows. I don't care for them myself, but sometimes it is a better alternative than leaving what's there- down.

    The whacking with the straw practice, I have heard of and unable to remember what they called it at the moment. The straw was twisted into a long rope like form and then that was twisted against itself.

    The theory was that the horse tensed or contracted the muscles in aticipation of the stiking with the straw. Then relaxed immediatly afterwards. Flexing and relaxing similar to reps when weight lifting in the gym. If it doesn't work on the horse, I imagine it would do wonders for your arms.

    CP- the tube socks are so out of date... Just like using strips of old bed sheets.

    Thankfully some things go out of style and NEVER make it back!

  7. I am with GL. as long as the tail is long enough to be effective against flies, I am happy . I raise appies and a very few of mine have that true "rat tail" matter of fact I thin one over the years, those are the type I would worry for as thewy have limeted protection against flies . For me "Ms. Bumpkin" no grooming product out there will beat ,good healthy groceries ,appropriate work and a vigorous grooming. Clean the debris off or stains ,but I think the healthy shine of a well kept horse should do it.
    That said ,I am enjoying learning about some of the "tricks of the trade " and downright shocked about others

  8. ALso you read in old books about hostlers and grooms twisting a "wisp" for grooming.

    What up with that?

  9. I was joking about the tube sox... I wonder if you can even BUY them anymore? I loved wearing them in 1978, though.....with track shorts.

    I think you need to post about sweats, SLeezies and such.

  10. "wisp" for grooming."

    same thing, CP. For strapping.

    I must be invisible again.

    Happens a lot:)

  11. GL- I too have heard it called 'wisp' or wisping. and seem to have posted just after you...

    CP- ya may have been joking about the tube socks, but I wasn't about the sheets. Care to guess where we used those? One of the farms, that still isn't a big name.

    I call 'em long socks and wear them with my ropers. Can't dream of putting them on with my field boots. Not a chance. Already in the wide calf and not much room left even for the socks. :(

  12. I thought about wrapping my palomino's tail (the red mud here makes it AWFUL - nearly impossible to get white again) but with the four of them out in the field, NOTHING stays on. They all pester the snot out of each other and we are lucky if the fly masks stay on for half the day!

  13. I'm going to bag ol' Monty's tail this winter - not for cosmetic reasons but because he was pastured with a yearling this summer who chewed a chunk of Monty's tail out. I have been babying that tail since I got the horse in March because it had been chewed off by another fellow pasture mate last winter when he was at his prior owner's farm. I just had it below his hocks and looking good and ..... chunk gone. He needs it for fly control. The yearling is gone, so maybe I can get it to grow yet again.

    I'll be a real yokel and tell you we used to use baling twine to braid and tie up tails. Cheap and handy.

  14. The only time I saw mud knots were in the hunt field when it was raining or muddy. They were put up right before the hunt and taken down right after. "Least the horse's tail break off" As a little kid I had visions of the the horses tail snapping off like a lizards. I also thought that was how horses ended up with docked tails.

  15. TMG- FV says shaving cream takes manure stains off white of markings...

    MHQ- would that be a pic of Monty in the avitar??? Cute! Wasn't his breeding similar to one of ours?

    Kaede- here you may see the mud knots in use at the track, the hunter or jumper rings and at some of the breed shows.

  16. MHQ- I forgot to add in the problems with other horses chewing their tails off for them. So helpful, isn't it?

    We had a gelding here with a decent enough tail. Two days before he went home the horse next to him chewed off his tail. They had been next to each other for some time and no problems. Came out one morning and it was just gone.

    Foals eating mama's tail is just as annoying.

  17. CNJ:

    I sent you some pics of tails, of course I mean horse tails for those of you like me who got a brief chuckle.

    I sent them via Kodak Easyshare so let me know if it works out okay.

  18. The horses getting their tails eaten reminds me of the time when I was moving Spunky up to the big hunter barn here in Williamsburg. The barn manager went to pick him up because I didn't have a trailer. I hadn't seen him in a couple of weeks because we were in the process of moving and all of that. I met them at the barn, Spunky comes off the trailer and half of his tail was gone. Chewed off by someone. Of course this had never happened before to anyone at the barn he came from.

    It was really embarassing because we had quite to audience.

    Murphy's Law strikes again. LOL!

  19. Margarita have you tried bluing ? We used it back in the '60's and '70's to get horses stocking white. A cap full to a gallon of water.

  20. GoLighly, I think what happened to Jay Trump was he had never been "strapped" before, the groom thought he had and gave him a treatment with no introduction. Wigged Jay out.

  21. CCC- my connection is being stupid I got the pics then now I didn't? Guess I better whack the box of lights one and try again. I'll send you the one I got tonight before the camera batteries committed suicide.

    Margarita girls- here in the hell do you find that stuff? OMG! A horse diaper... I have to wonder if the designer was a massive germophobe, neat freak or possibly suffered from severe OCD. Wow! Just Wow!

  22. CNJ-

    That's my baby - and yes, he's by MC Psynister who was Psyndi's (sp?) sire as well. We talked about her and her sire when I was thinking about buying Monty. You said she was very sensible - must be a family thing as he is really smart and sensible. I've taken him on two trail rides and thank heavens, he is an ace on the trails. Looks at everything, but none of that silly spinning stuff. The people I ride with can't believe he's only 3. I am crazy about him.

    I can't decide if he's going to be a competitive trail riding national champion or a sport horse under saddle national champion!

    A girl can dream...

  23. I used to event with a trainer that had grown up showing QH's. All our horses wore tail bags all the time. It was sooooo funny to see the other horses FREAK when we arrived at XC schooling days with our horses making bizarre THWACK THWACK THWACK noises every time they swished their tails.

    We used about a quarter of a bottle of conditioner on each tail before braiding it up and left it in all the time. I'm not sure it did anything. But their tails didn't fall out, so we didn't hurt anything, either.

    I bang all my horses' tails, it looks so dignified. :)


  24. MHQ- Psyndi's new owners absolutely adore her! She is quite the apple of their eye. Glad to hear your new kid is working out to be everything you hoped for. He's quite handsome.

    Union Square- the thwapping noises I could hear at my desk. It's funny how horses not exposed to some things either just freak out or simply can't be bothered over the stuff you least expect.

  25. CNJ-

    MC Psynister is in Missouri now. I talked to his owner before he was delivered. She was excited to be his new owner.

    Psynister seems to be one of those underappreciated Arab stallions. Will be interesting to see how he does in MO.

    Thanks for the kind words about Monty. I am really glad I bought him.