How I do Stuff: Tail Maintenance
Here is a little secret.
Most of those beautiful tails are not real. All horse events at horse shows that I have ever shown in from AQHA to reining to hunter shows have all had a very longstanding trend of long and thick tails. When I was a kid showing Quarter Horses I would spend hours upon hours grooming my horse’s tail so that by show season it would be long and thick. Quite frankly I got to be quite the horse stylist! Until I started showing Jaguar, that is. His tail tended more towards the thin and wispy style. This was also at a time when fake tails were becoming more common than not. People were figuring out that rather than leaving tails braided and protected by tail bags or socks (yes, we used tube socks to protect our horse’s tails. My Dad thought it was beyond ridiculous) year round they could just braid or tie in a fake tail and call it a day. Jaguar’s tail was so pathetic that I succumbed to the trend and made my own fake tail to tie into his real tail at shows giving it some volume and a little bit of length.
Alas that trend continues today in the hunter world and I’m reverting back to my kid self with fierce determination that my horses are going to grow their own damn tails. This may be due partially to my desire to prove that I can do it and partially to the fact that I have a grey horse and their fake tails cost twice as much as one for a bay or chestnut because the colors have to match just right. Regardless, I’ve challenged myself to help Coco grow a respectable tail in time for her first horse show. I anticipate we have about a year for this endeavour. This post will be photographic evidence of what we started with.
Based on interwebs research I’m going to use Shapley’s M-T-G to help Coco’s tail grow. I also subscribe to the philosophy of brushing the hair with a brush as little as possible, however I also need it to remain tangle free so if it gets caught on a tree branch or fence the hair won’t get pulled out because of a tangle. So I will pick it out with my fingers most of the time, but will brush it every once in a while. Plus she LOVES having her tail brushed.
When I brush hair; mine or a horse’s; I always start at the very bottom and move slowly closer to the roots. This allows the tangles to get picked out without pulling out giant wads of hair.
Once the tail is fully brushed out I start applying the M-T-G at the very top of the tail by parting it horizontally like so:
Then squirting some M-T-G as close to the hairline as possible. M-T-G works at the root of the hair, not as a conditioner. It encourages hair growth.
I’ll do about three of these spots slowly working down the tailbone. After each application of M-T-G I work it into the roots of the hair to get it spread throughout. Once I get about 1/3 to 1/2 way down the tailbone I’ll part the hair vertically:
I’ll part it all the way to the end of the tail bone then apply a very liberal amount of M-T-G and work it into the roots of the hair. The goal here is to get as much on the tail as possible and as little on the floor as possible.
Once I’ve gotten the tailbone hair as saturated as possible without dripping I’ll put some on the length of the tail just to protect that hair. Plus it acts as a detangler.
One thing about M-T-G is that it smells absolutely horrible. Like a cross between animal lard and barbecue. It is terribly odd scent, but it is supposed to work really well. The bottle says to apply it once per week to encourage hair growth for manes and tails. We don’t really care about the mane, so we’ll only be applying it to Coco’s tail. The directions also state to not put it on a horse’s tail and then turn them out in the sunshine. M-T-G causes photo sensitivity. Good thing that during the summer months my horses get turned out at night! I’ll report back in a few months to see how Coco’s tail growth progress is going. I’ve been sporadically putting M-T-G in Sterling’s tail for about 6 months and his looks pretty good. I’ll add him to the weekly application program and maybe they will both have to die for tails by next summer!