Aesthetics vs. convenience

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Dec 1, 2002
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My two year old gelding, Mouse, has a gorgeous and full silver tail. It is thick and well conditioned so I have to trim it about four times a year like his dam's.

His mane is not the same. It seems brittle and dry, and has never been longer than about six inches, max.

What I wonder is should I thin and possibly shorten and layer the tail to more match the mane and also to view his lower leg angulation from behind in shows?

He is correct and moves/tracks straight, so I can't see any benefit to hiding this part of him.

What I can see I need to do is to get a new, recent photograph of his tail and how it seems to be unbalancing his overall picture.

I don't keep the tail up or do anything to it except wash it and comb it out before a show, maybe put some showsheen and cowboy magic in it. Wish all my horses had this problem! I just cut about three inches off of it last week, and two months ago had taken about four inches off it.

What set this off was while I was walking/trotting him out for the farrier and she commented "that tail...I can't see anything!"


Here is a pic taken in April, after the first trim of the year:


Thanks for your opinions!

Liz M.
My Silver Black has the same problem- I think it maybe linked to the colour- we thought at first it was an errant Appy gene from his Sire, making the mane and in his case tail short thin and dry, but I've had him two years and just got the mane right (BOSS sorted the tail. Just from that picture I would say the tail is unbalancing him- one of the weakest points of almost all Minis is a tendency to a low tail set which is NEVER enhanced by a full tail, even if it is only slight. A lot depends on how he carries it when trotting but, the way you guys show, with so much depending on the horse standing still (we are exactly the opposite) you cannot pick up as many points that way. I used a deep conditioner on Cody's mane and just left it in. Washed it out before a show or when he looked really awful
Did that for a year. Showed him last week, only time this year- he will not wear a hood, not at all, rubs any one you put on him straight off, wrecking it as he goes- so I made him one that you had to winch him into and was made out of armour plating!! Next day he had a lovely flat mane and now still has, flat, long and full of bounce!!! It's taken a long time but it's been worth it- h's still on BOSS_ oh, here I go again, THAT was not the question
YES Liz, I WOULD thin it out, but only if I had someone to run him up and down for me so I could check each time, and do it very gradually, because it is a lovely tail and you would not want to take too much off!!!
I have the same problem with most of my horses, especially my stallions.
There have been times where I have picked up the tail and moved the horse out for the farrier.

Thanks, Rabbit and Robin!

I figure I should probably start working on it as it is pretty hard to see anything once he gets to moving out and further fluffing it out no matter how much time we spend trying to get it bunched together, it spreads out and sometimes gets staticky which exacerbates the problem!

Mouse does get BOSS in his feed, and it's done great for his coat and tail, just not mane and forelock. I have a suspicion it MAY be an after effect of an herbal remedy I put on him for rain rot/lice/etc. late last Winter/Early Spring. It seemed to bleach his body hair to a brownish color and I poured it along his topline as per the instructions. Anyway, I hope it will look better in his third year, but for now, we do with it what we can. I can't really keep him in out of the sun as you know he's a vice waiting to happen....

I was looking at lots of the other show horses and most of them have tails that are "pointed" at the bottom as in layered rather than blunt cut across also they were nowhere near as long even though my gelding's was a couple inches from the ground.

If I DO screw it up, at least there is the comforting thought that it grows fast and thickly.

(see pic of his dam under my critique of yearling mare thread...that was how her tail was at ten months of age!!! I still have to trim her tail about 6" off of it two times a year or it drags in the mud)

Liz M.
Well, as a horsehair "professional" (I braid the stuff for a living) I can tell you that most likely, the mane IS the result of the stuff you put on it. It will take a while for new hair to grow out but when it does, I suspect that with the diet and the excellent shape this horse is in that he will have a wonderful mane too.

Hair growth is related to genetics, of course. The hair follicle is programmed (genetically) to have so much weight on it, and then stops growing hair when the hair reaches the length to create that weight. That's why some horses just won't grow a thick, long mane and tail.

Usually the hair itself is affected by the health of the animal that grew it. When people send me hair from a horse that got sick and died (I see this a lot) the hair can be brittle, harsh and have a lot of splits in it. If the persone then tells me the horse had a long term illness it of course makes perfect sense. But one of the biggest causes of a horse's death is colic, which can strike perfectly healthy horses in the prime of their life. Those horses typically have shiny smooth hair that is very strong. That's why I believe that your horse will eventually have an awesome mane to match his awesome tail.

Since I love horsehair, I am sad that you will be thinning and shortening a magnificent tail!!
From a judging stand point thin it and shorten it if it will give you an advantage in the ring. I believe a judge will place conformation he/she can SEE over conformation he/she has to guess at.

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