As a horse lover, you probably don't think too much about horse's tails unless they are tangled and in need of a brushing. The reality is that your horse's tail is an essential part of his appearance and serves a purpose beyond simply making your steed's hind parts more attractive to the eye.
The Tail Bone
A horse’s tail is not precisely like the hair on your head. Its hair does not grow straight off your horse's rear end. Horses’ tailbones provide a center structure for the tail and allow the horse to move the tail as he pleases. The tail hair grows out of the tailbone, normally about a foot long. Your horse lifts his tailbone to move the tail out of the way when he eliminates as well as to make the tail hair swish flies off his legs and sides.
Maintaining the Tail
Your horse's tail must be taken care of or it will tangle to the point where it is one solid knot around the tailbone. Brush your horse's tail regularly. If it is very tangled, you need to pick the knots out using your fingers. Brushes break hair and pull it out, making the tail look thin and frizzy. If you are having a hard time maintaining your horse's tail, apply horse conditioner on it to help work knots out. A nutritious diet also enables your horse to grow a strong, healthy tail.
Protecting the Tail
Horses who have thin or easily breakable tails can quickly begin to look like they have almost no tail at all. While this is not really a problem for horses just ridden for recreation, show horses are expected to have long, luscious tails. For these horses, tuck the tail into a tail bag. These protect the tail from damage and dirt. Tails are normally braided to make the process of getting the tail into the bag and keeping it there easier.
The Fake Tail
Though the tail does not serve any actual purpose in terms of performance, an attractive tail is considered an important part of your total presentation in a horse show. For a show horse that has an extremely thin, short or otherwise less than flawless tail, it is commonplace to braid a fake tail into the real tail. Fake tails are made of real or synthetic horsehair and make the tail appear full and healthy in competition. Fake tails often cost several hundred dollars and come in all colors and thicknesses.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.