Big Tails - How Virtually Any Horse Can Have a Naturally Full Tail

Big Tails

By Ruthann Smith
© 2011, Ruthann Smith, All rights reserved.
Originally Published in Equine Journal

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Proper daily grooming products promote full tails and easy care.

Virtually any horse can have a naturally full tail. Unfortunately, prevailing practices prevent them. Conventional care can actually make hair thin, difficult to maintain and impossible to grow while worsening tangles and locking in stains. There is a better way.

I had some time to think about hair. Braiding 12,000+ horses, my livelihood was contingent upon how fast I could twist it up and how long it'd stay stunning. Hairs' properties greatly effect one's ability to: have hair to braid, hold it to work, perfect the braids' bottom line, braid lightning-fast and yield perfectly uniform, sturdy and comfortable braids. I have learned that hair can be strong and supple as well as resilient to stains.

Imagine a tail that is: thick, fluffy, super-easy to pick- even resists tangles and stains! This article will share easy and proven principles and practices to achieve the very best tails for every horse. This system will save time, money and the environment. Here's how:

Beware of drying agents

Dry hair is apt to break, won't grow and stains. It is thirsty- grabbing onto dirt. Most equine shampoos strip coats of natural protective oils. The resulting parched skin is not only more sensitive. It gets dirtier.

Most shampoos use sodium chloride (salt!) and petroleum products for lather and shine. Those shampoos are difficult to rinse and leave a film that attracts drying dirt. So, choose well. The right shampoo can not only create shine and dapples, but also make coats more resilient, rinse quickly and stay clean.

Avoid Detanglers

They make tails thin and stain. Silicon or oil-based, they coat hair to lock in stains and suffocate the hair, making it brittle and break. Most importantly, detanglers are toxic to you, the horse and environment.

Volumize to Reduce Tangles

Under a microscope aloe vera looks like Velcro®. Strands of healthy hair is highly textured; hence inclined to separate rather than to wrap into knots. So, use Lucky Braids All-In-One Shampoo and comb the tail wet. The right shampoo makes tails fluffy rather than fall into sections. They're big and easy to maintain.

No Substitutions

Fake tails usually look like ugly wigs. Is that ideal? Did you ever wonder where all those tails come from? Or, how much we have increased the demand for them? Thing is, if you use and share these tail care tips, few will need fake tails- or their costs, fitting, management, cleaning, etc. So, a healthy daily grooming routine is preferable on all fronts.

Enable Natural Oils

I realized leaving braids in overnight breaks hair. Natural protective oils do not readily slide down a kinked hair shaft. So, unbraid daily. Wet brush over, under and through the hair to straighten it out. Never put a kinky mane to bed.

Tail hair that is well organized flows, stimulating natural protective oils to fortify the hair. Tail bags can help when a tail is so big it gets dumped on. As far as promoting growth, I have found that the movement of loose hair stimulates growth and oils to replenish hair. Generally, daily grooming protects the tail more effectively than a bag or not touching it.

Keep Clean

Dirt, sodium chloride, detanglers and fly spray can irritate skin and deplete hair to break it. (Think poultice- mud draws and dries) Be sure to use shampoo that does not strip oils and nourishes the tail. In fact, enriched hair will be brightest and even stay cleaner longer! Proper shampoo actually improves coats.


Condition with Lucky Braids All-In-One Shampoo. It's pH balanced for horses, with generous amounts of Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, as well as medical-grade natural antiseptic Tea Tree Oil (there are 20 grades). Avoid sodium chloride (salt) and petroleum-based ingredients, such as mineral oil and silicone.


Trim to stimulate growth. You do not want the horse to step on and pull out his tail. Plus, a dragging tail makes a horse look hollow in the back. A blunt tail frames the hind end to help the horse appear more engaged. To bang a tail, first lift it to be sure it hangs parallel to the ground when the horse works. Otherwise, splay it and trim for a natural look. I like a tail hanging above the ankle when in work.

Comb Wet. Maintain

Initially, shampoo with Lucky Braids All-In-One and comb wet. Wet hair stretches, so it is more forgiving. Always protect the roots by twisting the tail and holding bottom to comb. Gently start below the grip and comb your way up the tail. If you encounter a knot, start lower again. Pick (your best option- separate all the strands with your fingers), comb or brush carefully every day. Again, always start holding the bottom to protect the roots.

If hair is difficult to organize because it's sticking together, Lucky Braids  enzymatic spray can separate the hair from the dirt without drying out the coat. Instead of using a detangler that seals in dirt, spray the tail with the enzyme, wipe the footing off and comb the tail when wet.

When the enzyme dries it dies. So, to remove tough old stains: douse the tail with the enzyme, tie it up to stay damp while grooming and reapply the spray as needed to dissolve the bond between the hair and dirt. Then wipe clean and comb wet. Maintain with proper shampoo. This method has easily eradicated every stain I've treated.

So, now the power is yours.

Catch the judge's eye by singing quality care with a show-stopping tail. You can't fake gorgeous. So, choose the most effective daily grooming program to minimize your costs and eliminate problems. When beauty ensues, enjoy inspiring awe and the easy maintenance!

Bio Pic

Ruthann Smith has spent a lifetime studying sound horsemanship- both as a groom for top international horses and as a renowned braider. Quietly twisting manes atop a ladder, she watched and learned in some of the best stables in the world.

As her passion for great grooming grew, Ruthann became focused on researching, collecting and sharing the best practices of the world’s keenest horsemen. Ultimately, Ruthann used her vast experience to develop exceptional equine grooming products to help raise the bar of horsemanship.

The knowledge she dispenses and the products Ruthann developed solve age-old grooming issues. Making quality horse care easier, they have received the highest honors in the equine industry*. Her Lucky Braids for Top Turnout coat care and braiding products are the best, most versatile, cost-effective and easiest solutions available on the market today.

Now Ruthann offers her LOVE, LOVE Guarantee. If not totally thrilled with a product she developed, Ruthann will refund you in full, regardless of where you purchased it.

It’s her life’s mission to empower horses by educating, motivating and equipping their people to be true horsemen. You can access Ruthann’s tips at: The Grooming Resource on, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and her Horsemanship Clinics.

*After testing 350 products, Lucky Braids All-In-One Horse Shampoo was named product of the year by Horse Journal, the “Consumer Reports” of the industry. They also named Lucky Braids Shampoo and Top Pick for greys and whites. Lucky Braids specialized braiding yarn also got stellar reviews.