The best way to maintain a tail’s good looks and function on a horse is to keep it clean and in top condition. Unfortunately, though tail skin feels tough, and those hairs look impenetrable, the equine tail isn’t immune to injury and disease. But conscientious care can make the difference between lush and scraggly.
Healthy tail hairs are elastic and shiny, thanks to the lubricating sebum excreted from oil glands at the base of the hair follicles. It’s perfectly normal to find dead hairs among the healthy ones–they’re victims of the normal growth-death replacement cycle as the body constantly replenishes itself. But beware of dull, brittle tail hairs and hairs falling out by the handful as these symptoms could signal the onset of disease or a dietary deficiency and require prompt attention.
As for cleanliness, professional trainers and groomers advise washing the tail only when necessary. Frequent shampoos dry out hair and skin by interfering with the distribution of natural oils produced by the sebaceous glands. A once-a-month once-over is enough to maintain healthy-looking tail hair. When washing, be sure to wet all the hair well. Drench it right down to the tailbone and work a mild shampoo into the innermost tresses. Rinse thoroughly–soap residue can dry and irritate skin and provoke tail rubbing. Use a good-quality conditioner and leave it in for several minutes; then rinse again until the water runs clear. To minimize breakage, don’t comb the tail while it’s wet. Wait until the hair is completely dry, and then pick out tangles with your fingers or comb, A brush with flexible metal tines and cushioned tips works well, too. But don’t use stiff plastic grooming aids because they tend to damage hair shafts and pull out healthy hairs. To brush or comb, start at the ends, and work up. Grab a one-inch hunk and fan it out to detangle individual hairs. Continue until you have groomed the entire tail. Baby oil as a grooming aid enhances the hair’s condition and shine and helps control dandruff. Silicone sprays add temporary luster for the show ring, but it’s best to wash them out after the show since they ultimately dry the hair.
Crazy Horse Laws That are Still on the Books
In Bismarck, North Dakota, every home within the city limits of Bismarck must have a hitching post in the front yard.
Budds Creek, Maryland, has an antique law which prohibits horses from sleeping in a bathtub, unless the rider is also sleeping with the horse.
In Headland, Alabama: “Any man on horseback shall not tempt another man’s wife. An unmarried horseman should not stop overnight when the woman is alone.”
Bluff, Utah’s legislation regarding the Sabbath: Women who happen to be single, widowed or divorced are banned from riding to church on Sunday. Unattached females who take part in such outlandish activities can be arrested and put in jail.
Citizens are prohibited from buying, selling, or trading horses “after the sun goes down” in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, without first getting permission from the sheriff.
In Schurz, Nevada, they have an old law which prohibits the trading of a horse after dark.
In Pee Wee, West Virginia, people are prohibited from swapping horses in the town square at noon.