Last Saturday, I went to the barn to ride Phantom. While walking out to get him from the field, I noticed his tail...it wasn't there!! How many of you have been there, or have a horse with a wispy, fine tail that you really want to change into a luxurious and flowing one?
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 products for sale can actually inhibit hair growth. If your horse's tail is typically cleaned every single day, you can try the picking by hand method. If your horse lives outside or thinks that mud is his BFF (like Phantom), you will likely need to do daily tail care to avoid major disasters. Here are some tips that can help.
- According to Ruthann of Lucky Braids, most shampoos use sodium chloride (salt!) for lather which strips the natural protective oils. Detanglers, even though promoted, are expensive, toxic and suffocate the hair, promoting breakage and even lock in stains.
- Comb the tail while wet. Wet hair stretches. It is very forgiving. Use a big comb on clean, wet tails.
- To protect the length and roots of the hairs on the tail, first twist the tail. Then, hold the bottom. Gently comb below your grip always from the bottom as you work your way up the tail. Organize hair to the root.
- Pick out the tail daily. Use your fingers to pick pieces apart, separating strands to their base. Brushes can be fine IF YOU CHOOSE YOUR BRUSH CAREFULLY! Paddle brushes have too many bristles. Use the cheap ones made for blow-drying hair. The bristles need to be far apart with knobs that are the same piece as the bristle.
- Tail bags actually weaken the hair.
- If the tail is sticking together because the tail is dirty and bathing is out, use an enzymatic spray made for horses. Properly pH balanced, it can break the bond between hair and dirt without coating or stripping the hair. Wipe off the impurities with a towel and comb wet.
- Use an all-in-one shampoo that fortifies the hair without stripping the hair. It should have aloe vera to promote growth, medical-grade tea-tree oil to kill irritants and a light conditioner that actually enriches the hair.