Tail Switching Makes Tail Club
May 23, 2010 by cherryhillhorsekeeping
A reader wrote:
I am just starting to go thru your informative tidbits. I have the 101 tips on tape and love the hints. Now if I could only find an answer to my mare’s obsession to switching her tail so much it turns into a hair club. She is a pasture horse, rarely groomed and comes to a whistle from anywhere on the ranch. She also loves ANY open gate! LOL.
Thanks for the visit. Horses develop some repetitive behavior patterns that originally might have been caused by a specific reason, but even after the reason is gone, the habit persists. Tail switching is often like that. If you purchased the horse from someone else, you may never know how the habit started initially.
Tail switching basically indicates irritation – either physical or mental. A horse might start obsessive tail switching due to many reasons which can include irritation at training, bad fitting tack, restriction by the bridle, more pressure than than horse can handle mentally, a dirty sheath or udder, parasites or ticks in the tail or anal area, skin problems on the hindquarters or belly, general mare behavior related to estrus and many other causes.
When a horse switches its tail continually, it whips the hair into “witches curls”, like the wind does in a long mane, and those, in turn, make the “club” you are referring to. As I see it, given the pasture status of your horse, you have 3 basic choices:
1. Untangle the tail and condition it every couple of weeks with a detangler. There are those that are creams that are rubbed in, spray on types and gels. These make the hair slick or glassy and less apt to tangle.
2. Braid the tail in a pasture braid like I demonstrate in my video 101 Horsekeeping Tips– since you have that DVD, you can refer to it.
3. Ignore the club.
But really, the best choice might be to change your horse’s status from pasture horse to riding horse ! Then you can keep her tail untangled each day as you get her ready to ride and you can enjoy her tail flowing out behind you as you gallop off in the Texas dawn……………
101 Horsekeeping Tips DVD by Cherry Hill