How To Care For A Horses Tail, And Will It Grow Back If You Trim It, Or Totally Cut It Off?


If you own a horse, you know that keeping them clean and groomed can be time-consuming.  In particular, their mains and tails need special attention to keep them untangled and healthy. 

Here’s our guide to the common questions and problems associated with horses tails and what you can do to keep them looking great. 

Why do horses have long tails? 

Almost all breeds of horses have long tails, which is primarily used to swish away insects that could bite them.  It is also that its tail can be used to signal its mood, much like a dog. But why do some horses have short tails? In the past, some people have docked the tails of draft horses in order to stop them from getting trapped in the rigging and carriages they pull. The Appaloosa breed is also known for having a shorter, sparser tail. 

Can you cut off a horses tail? 

Yes, you can cut the hair on a horses tail. But why would someone cut off a horses tail? Is it bad to cut a horses tail? This is sometimes necessary if it has become severely matted or damaged. But does a horses tail grow back? Well, that depends on whether the tail bone has been docked. If it is only the hair that has been cut, it will usually grow back assuming that there aren’t any underlying health or medical conditions causing it not to. 

How long does it take for a horses tail to grow back?

The speed at which the tail grows back depends on the breed of horse, its overall health and condition and the reason the tail was cut in the first place. You can expect, in optimum conditions, for the tail to grow between 0.5 – 1.5 inches by month. There is no guarantee the regrowth will be the same condition, thickness or even color as it was before. 

If you are wondering how can I get my horses tail to grow back? There are a few things you can do to help it along. These include: 

  • Treating any underlying medical or skin conditions
  • Feeding them a healthy diet and consider supplements to ensure they are getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need
  • Regular detangling of the tale (not with a brush)
  • Do not overbrush the tail, this can lead to further damage to the hair 
  • Use a growth shampoo and leave-in conditioner when washing
  • Use a net or bag to protect the tail from rubbing or damage

Many people swear by coconut oil for their own hair and skin and you might be wondering is coconut oil good for horses mane and tail? There appears to be a lot of anecdotal evidence that massaging coconut oil into the hair on a regular basis will help the hair to grow healthier and longer. 

Causes of tail hair loss in horses

There is a number of reasons for hair loss from the tail. If the horse has an asymmetrical pattern of hair loss, it could be that another horse is chewing on it in the field. 

If there are bald spots appearing, this is generally caused by the horse repeatedly rubbing its tail or a skin condition caused by fungus or ticks. 

Mineral deficiencies and other metabolic imbalances can also result in hair loss. 

Do horses have feeling in their tail?

Just like human hair, horse tail hair doesn’t produce any direct physical feelings. However, there is some feeling where the hair attaches to the dock. So while cutting their tail hair won’t produce any pain, pulling on it might. Each horse has a different level of sensitivity. 

How Do You Clean A Horse’s Tail?

One of the best ways to keep your horse’s tail clean is to wash it regularly. Use enough water to saturate the tail and disperse the shampoo. Be sure to use a shampoo designed for horses and never use detergents. Really work up a lather and thoroughly get shampoo into the hair and the base of the tail. Depending on the thickness of the bad’s tail, you may need to use more or less shampoo. 

It’s very important that you rinse it thoroughly, as leftover shampoo can cause irritation. If there is excessive build-up in the tail, you may need to repeat the shampooing process. 

You’ll need to move on to the conditioner. Squeeze out any excess water from the tail and apply the conditioner. Comb it through the hair using your fingers and not a comb, as this can put tension on the hair cause it to breaks. 

Some people prefer to use a leave-in conditioner. This can be a good option if your horse has thin or quite silky hair. If your horse has very dry or coarse hair, then use a traditional conditioner and leave it on the hair for a few minutes before you wash it out. 

There are other specialist products you can use after this including a spray to make it shine. A detangling spray is a good idea too. 

How often should you wash a horses tail?

Again this depends on a number of factors. If your horses tail gets particularly dirty, then you may have to wash it quite frequently. Overwashing and brushing can have a detrimental effect on a main that you want to try and encourage to grow. 

Don’t be tempted to brush the tail until it has dried. 

Can you wash a horse’s tail in winter? 

It’s not recommended to wash a horse with water when it’s very cold, even with warm water. If you need to wash your horse in the winter months, you will need to take them somewhere that is warmer and don’t let them back outdoors until they are completely dry. 

There is a range of specialist grooming products designed to be used dry that can get you through the winter months. 

Final Thoughts

If your horse’s tail is damaged or needs to be cut, then you are probably worried about caring for it as it grows back. Each horse is different, but as long as you follow the basics and remove any medical and external causes of tail loss, you should be able to coax it back into good condition with a little patience. 

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