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Horses are delicate creatures with a wide variety of personalities, just like people. They’re intelligent and graceful, but due to their strength and natural athleticism, horses can be dangerous when they’re not handled properly. That’s why Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has dedicated his life to helping horse owners avoid dangerous situations, gain their horse’s respect, and learn how to take charge in their partnership with their horses. Clinton has a unique way of working with horses and continually teaches us how to best handle them. In this week’s episode, we dive into a topic that doesn’t get as much coverage as it should: how to properly wash and care for your horse’s tail.
The first step to properly washing a horse’s tail is to simply rinse the tail out thoroughly. Clinton advises not to use too much water; just enough to saturate it so it will produce a good lather when the shampoo is added. Then it’s time to get to work. The amount of shampoo you’ll use will depend on the thickness and length of your horse’s tail, so just eyeball it to begin and add more if needed.
When you’re shampooing, make sure you cover everything from the very top of the tail down to the ends. Use a lathering motion that won’t knot the hair too much and always be sensitive to your horse. After you’ve lathered it, it’s time to rinse. You want to really rinse everything out and make sure you don’t leave any residue in there so you’ve got a clean slate for the rest of the tail care.
The second step is applying a good horse conditioner. Don’t be afraid to use too much, especially if your horse has a thick tail. Apply the conditioner to the entire length of your horse’s tail then use your fingers to comb through the hair and make sure you’ve covered it all. If your horse has dry hair, it’s safe to let the conditioner sit for a few minutes so it deeply saturates the strands. After it’s gotten a chance to soak in, go ahead and rinse that conditioner out.
You’re not done yet! Clinton tells us that we’ve still got a few more products to apply to take tail care to the next level.
After shampooing, applying conditioner, and rinsing, squeeze out any excess water from your horse’s tail. Then apply Show Sheen, which is a product similar to coat conditioner. It’s applied through a spray bottle application and the amount you need to use again depends on the thickness of your horse’s tail. Be generous with the application, you really can’t use too much of this!
Finally, apply a detangler. Squeeze a decent amount into your hands and rub them together to cover your palms. Afterwards, just run that detangler through the length of the tail, but avoid over saturating the top. Let these products sit for a while and dry naturally.
Clinton reminds us that throughout this process, we don’t want to use a comb on our horse’s tail—that comes later. Once everything has dried completely, we can start the process of putting the tail back up.
Go ahead and get your brush and brush out your horse’s tail. Start at the very bottom and work your way up to avoid causing your horse any discomfort and to tackle the knots more effectively. Once everything is smooth, start the braiding process.
First, gather all of the short pieces of hair that won’t fit into the braid and clip them back using a butterfly clip. With the remaining hair, separate the tail into three even pieces and, starting at the bottom of your horse’s tailbone, make a regular, basic braid all the way to the end of the hair. Don’t pull on the hair when doing this, as you want to avoid breakage. Use small rubber bands to secure the braid in the center, at the top, and at the bottom of the tail. Remember, every horse’s tail is going to look different because the thickness and length is unique to each animal.
Finally, get a sock and cut it down the center. Put it in your horse’s tail through the top loop of the braid on opposite sides, then cross them behind the back and back up to the front. Tie a basic knot and you’re ready to go! For the best results, repeat this process every seven to ten days.