Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What Do Wednesday

This episode of What Do comes a little late, but I was dealing with my fire breathing dragon. Apparently, in typical OTTB fashion I only get 3 good rides in a row and then he has to be an asshole.

Moving on from that, this weeks topic stems from the ever entertaining "OTTB Connect" group on FB. Truly excellent time waster if youre bored and want to converse with other OTTB enthusiasts about various topics surrounding all things Thoroughbred. Sometimes there's even some real Jerry Springer drama and it gets fun to watch!

Recently someone posted asking advice on how to get her horses' tail to grow; specifically wanting to know if anyone had success with slinky tail bags.

I jumped on the opportunity to write a novel, since most of us know I am exceptionally passionate & obsessed with tails. All it really did was lead to an absurd amount of FB notifications, but a few people asked me follow up questions and I felt like the tail queen for a few minutes.

This might be a lengthy post, because obsessed, so settle in or carry on.

I do believe the obsessive obsession it started when my first horse came to me with no tail and I was like, no, this isnt OK.

Dolly's tail eventually grew back, but it took literally 7 years. Her tail was the most gorgeous tail I've seen though and I loved it. Flaxen is absolutely the best. So happy I have another (semi) flaxen tail in my barn.

Tail obsession continued with a horse named Murphy. Literally the MOST perfect tail of any horse I've ever seen ever and it makes me sad he was only a project horse.

Flaxen and huge and long and wonderful

Spirit on the other hand had THE WORST tail. By worst I mean hardy anything at all. I stressed over his locks for years. Not only did I keep it up 100% of the time, he got treated with a double dose of my "special secret tail grow" program. It took years for his tail ever gain length and it never did get volume. But was always perfectly white!

Yankee, thankfully, was blessed with many hairs. His tail was full, shiny and grew like crazy. I drove myself mad trying to keep it perfect.

For most of his time with me, I kept it in a ball to prevent breakage and sunburns. There is NOTHING that looks more ratchet than a red tail that supposed to be black. IMO. I wont have it.

The tail ball
I used to shave all my horses tails at the top, but I decided that it took too much upkeep and if you ever screwed up doing it (like I did often) it looked REALLY bad. I doubt I will ever cut any of my horses tails like most eventers do these days. I prefer full, banged tails. Just my preference though, some horses look sexy AF with a trimmed tailbone.

To break it down, I have 5 major things I do for tails, aka "special secret tail grow":
1) Biotin supplement
2) excellent, high fat, high protein diet with plenty of forage
3) Cowboy magic & MTG
4) tail ball
5) regular trims

The tail ball only requires a human hair tie (less likely too pull out hairs) and old socks. I actually learned this technique from an Arabian trainer I worked for in Middle School and it WPRKED. All her horses tails dragged the ground. I HATE tail bags. They always come out and rarely work. I've tried literally every kind thats ever been made and never been able to find one I like.

 Tail ball=golden

Before you braid, you Cowboy Magic that bitch upppp. This provides a leave in conditioner and prevents hair breakage. You divide the tail into three even sections and braid LOOSELY. Then you double under a few times until you have a braid ball, pulling braid through itself. Then, pull a sock over the braided ball and duct tape where the knot balls up. Then you pull the remaining sock fabric over the duct tape and the ball and BAM, there ya go. I know that was super helpful and not at all confusing.

I would usually un-do, re brush and re-cowboy magic every 2-3 weeks or as needed. Takes a TON of practice to get perfect but once you nail it, you gucci. Once a month I will trim a little bit off the bottom to keep the edge clean and sharp. This also gets rid of straggles and overall makes a better picture.

Just checking on hairs, nothing to see here
Its important to note that I use a human hairbrush and un-tangle from the bottom up! Less hairs get pulled out!

In addition to that, I fed a biotin supp form Smartpak. I TRULY saw a difference when I began feeding  this. Originally it was suggested to help Yankee's terrible feet, but I noticed his hairs would grow like weeds. Now all my horses get it 12 months out of the year. Its miraculous.

Sometimes, I would MTG the tailbone. A lot of people, myself included, think it helps stimulate hair growth. The key is to not over saturate and ONLY get near the skin/pores. I hear this stuff reeks, so its up to you if you use it. Also have to shake really really well. Hassle, but I've seen it work not only on tail hair, but injured areas as well. Its a pretty magical substance.

When I first got B his tail was....wimpy

First ride, May 30th
This simply would not do. I banged it IMMEDIATELY, cutting off a solid 5 inches of hair from the bottom. For those that may not know what this is, it means to cut a very straight edge across the bottom. Some people high bang their horses tails (like I do with B and did with Spirit) because the tails will never really get volume. Others bang low, like I did with Yankee. This does wonder for a tail and if you're lazy and dont want to obsess over tails like I do, just bang the shit out of it!

I began a strict regime of MTG because I could NOT keep a tail ball in his tail. I firmly believe that it was too thin to hold one in, so for months I kept it VERY short and MTG'ed, Cowboy Magicked the ends and started him on Biotin.

7 months has made a difference, but I doubt it will ever be truly full like yanks is.

For now, his tail is being kept up in a braid and vetwrap combination because socks refuse to stay intact in his tail. Not ideal, but keeps it clean and up out of the way so it doesnt get snagged on stuff and things.

So dear readers....what do you do for tails? Do you obsess like I do? Give none? Do you wash once  a year and leave it the rest of the time? Brush once a week? Tailbag it? Do you just not care?

Feed me your secrets!


  1. My horses range from having beautiful thick locks to an itched-off mess. I use 'no-nots' which is pretty much like cowboy magic, and only use a dandy brush to prevent pulling out any hair. I keep them banged too- at different levels depending on the tail. Otherwise they have their tails free and filthy.
    All my ponies get an insecticide weekly to stop the bugs from causing itchy spots too. My method works well enough. Rom has a glorious tail, and Petrus + Fabian are growing theirs back. Archie just has a thin tail. It's sad. So he has a false tail for shows!

  2. My friend Sherry and you could go on about this over an entire pot of coffee together. :) Both our B's shared that little flag of a tail in the beginning. His excuse was that his previous owner just chopped all 6 horses' tails off! WHO DOES THAT?! I mean like, almost to the tip of the tail bone. I don't know if it's a QH thing or what but I was like oh no no no, that's gotta go. I'm thinking about wrapping it over the winter now that it's long enough. Glad to hear you had good luck with the MTG. CalmCoat actually makes an excellent detangler as well! If you can find it.

  3. We used a similar technique in the Morgan show barn I used to work for as a groom. The only "complication" was that you had to make sure the tail ball did not get wet and stay wet, because then all the hairs will ROT and FALL OUT. Ask me how I know THAT ONE. ha.

  4. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing! I'm the type who washes once a year and then nothing. Chrome has a nice tail but it's white now (okay supposed to be white) so I may have to do the tail ball thing. Does it keep it from staining? Chrome plays in the muddy pond in the summer so I hope that doesn't mean daily washing!! What do you do in the summer when they need their tail for flies?? Also how do you prevent the rotting problem Karen mentioned when the sock gets wet? Also I think I know how to do it from your description but not one hundred percent. Not going to complain if you ever decided to do a how to video. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Ooooh tail care can be such a polarizing subject! I am middle-of-the-road when it comes to tails... definitely NOT the wash-it-once-then-nothing camp, but I don't go all crazy with tail bags/balls. Ain't nobody got time for that. However I do keep it clean (wash & condition probably once a month or so) and brush it out a few times a week. Always with detangler of some sort (Cowboy Magic or Vetrolin) and always with a human hair brush starting at the bottom. Bang always... long bang (fetlocks) for the pony since his tail is LOVELY and there's no reason to cut a ton off!

  6. Braid-in tail bags. All year. For everyone. Regardless. Yep, I am one of the crazies and I am ok with it. I use whatever conditioner I have around, slather it on, braid it in the bag and leave it for a month or so. It makes the tails long and strong, it drives me crazy to have to brush out a tail for every ride. Because, yes, they would have to be brushed out for every ride.

  7. I grew up with a similar philosophy--trainer would wash, trim, condition, braid, and then do you tail ball, only with vet wrap. She'd usually also make them a tail swish out of baling twine so the tail was still useful in the summers. Not attractive, but it got the job done.

    I like to actually SEE the tail. I'm vain, what can I say? Due to how I've kept Courage, I was able to leave the tail loose and just brush it out once or twice a week. Now it's all filthy and nasty and I'm considering cleaning it and putting it up, but I haven't done it yet.

  8. i'm pretty hands-off - mostly bc my leased arabian mare already has pretty gorgeous hair (mane and tail - tho i don't have a clue what to do with that mane), and uh, she doesn't belong to me... so i wash it out occasionally in the warmer weather then just keep it brushed / de-tangled in winter.

  9. Can I ask what Biotin supplement from Smartpak you use? I was considering using DuMor Ultra Shine from Tractor Supply, but would love to learn more about what you are using that works.

  10. There are days I wish I had time to care about tails but mostly in just glad to see healthy horses each day. I have one with a dad terrible excuse for a tail that she rubbed put the summer before we got her that will take years to grow out. One with a massively thick lind gorgeous flaxen tail. And Steady that though his tail has improved a great deal reach year since I've owned him like B just will never have that thickness of Lily's.

  11. Pleeease pleeease Monica ... tell me the name of the Smartpak Supplement you are using! I NEED to know! Must have info. Help meee! :)

    1. I use BioFlax 20 in my smartpaks! $16.35/mo

      There are other options with higher amounts of Biotin, but I'm a baller on a budget AND found the combination of ingredients works really really well. Its not all about the mg of biotin. You need other ingredients too. Do your research and see wht might work best for you. I personally love the compare button on smartpak :D

  12. Its funny, I worked for a NSH\ saddleseat arab trainer and learned the same. Super Kids stays in a bag and i brush it out and change the sock every month

  13. I guess I'm just lucky - Copper has great hair so he just goes au naturel in the paddock 24/7. Yup, dreadlocks happen. But I figure the less I brush, the less damage I do, so I leave it and if I ever get to show, then we do a through clean up with shampoo and a detangler even!

    He does get a suppliment for his coat to keep it's color, and I think that helps with his mane and tail too. It's Livamol - quite a popular Australian all purpose vitamin and mineral show supplement. I love it for keeping his coat healthy and shiny all year around when he's outside all the time.

    Coconut husk is also a superb supplement for coats, and for putting on pounds without heating them up. But as my boy's a VERY good doer (a.k.a. FATTY!) he has to come off that in the spring/summer. :D

    And for someone who does nothing, that's a lot of text up thar! XD

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  14. I love nice tails.. I'm just generally not dedicated enough to braid and wrap and all that haha

  15. Coincidence - I just ordered the Bioflax 20 supplement last week! I'm excited to see if it improves my pony's tail and hopefully helps build muscle.

  16. What a difference in B's tail! I love tails, but definitely lack the discipline and dedication that you have! Want to grow my horse's tail for me?! lol

  17. Interesting, I do a lot of this stuff just as general grooming! I am not tail obsessed but I do like the tails neat, clean and tidy. I am the number two cowboy magic fan I think! I use it daily, brush through from the bottom up, and keep it shorter in the winter so hairs dont get pulled out from the bottom.

    MTG is seriously amazing. We have been using it on the appy Oliver and notice a difference already!


There was an error in this gadget