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April 16, 2013

20 Tips for Healthy Tails from Cowboy Magic

Is your horse’s tail short, thin, dry, rubbed out or frizzy?
If so, these techniques will help your horse grow a healthy tail and will help you keep it long, thick and looking great.
Grooming your horse serves many purposes. It is an ideal time to get to know your horse and to bond with him. Horses, in general, enjoy being brushed. Thorough grooming promotes good health and a shiny coat by removing dirt and dander that can cause dry, itchy skin. If you take the time to groom your horse thoroughly every day, you will notice any small cuts, abrasions or irregularities that you otherwise might not find. A grooming session is also a good time to teach a young horse good ground manners, such as standing quietly and picking up his feet when asked.

Most horse owners want to do everything possible to promote a long, healthy, thick tail. Like your horse’s coat, his tail requires some elbow grease, but of a different kind. Here are some tips to help your horse grow a healthy tail and to help you keep it long and thick.

1. Healthy hair comes from the inside out. No amount of potions and conditioners will improve your horse’s coat, mane and tail if he is not receiving proper nutrition. Healthy hair comes from protein, amino acids and vitamins in quality forage and feed.

2. Use grooming tools designed for manes and tails. Human hair brushes will break the hair and pull it out. Use only wide-toothed combs and dandy brushes on the tail.

3. Don’t brush your horse’s tail every day. In fact, don’t brush it at all. Although it looks nice when it is brushed out, if you brush it every day, it will gradually get thinner and thinner. It takes years to re-grow each long strand of hair that is pulled out.

4. To stimulate growth, brush the dock of your horse’s tail daily with a dandy brush. This will loosen and remove dirt and dander, which can make your horse itchy. Brushing the dock and upper part of the tail bone also increases blood flow, which stimulates growth.

5. If your horse is rubbing his tail, determine why. Horses rub their tails for several reasons. Parasites will cause itching, so make sure your horse is on a regular de-worming program. Insects will also cause itching and some horses are more prone to skin reactions caused by insects. Protect your horse from insects by using insect repellants. Horses will also rub their tails in response to irritations around the sheath and anus area. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect this might be the problem and have your gelding’s sheath cleaned on a regular basis.

6. If your horse has developed sores or “hot spots” on the dock of his tail from rubbing, treat them promptly. An effective way to do this is to pre-soak the sores with COWBOY MAGIC® Greenspot® Remover, a waterless skin cleansing wash that’s a shower in a bottle. Spray the irritated area, let it soak for five minutes, and then gently scrub and rinse. Repeat these steps, if needed. If the wound has scabbed over, Greenspot® Remover can also be used to soften and remove a scab in order to treat the underlying tissue. Once the wound or irritation is thoroughly cleaned, it can then be treated with a topical ointment to promote healing. Any sores or hot spots should be cleansed and treated daily until completely healed.

7. The best way to keep your horse from rubbing his tail is to keep it clean and moisturized. If your horse’s tail is dirty or his skin is dry, he will rub his tail to relieve the itching that is caused by both. Use COWBOY MAGIC® Rosewater Shampoo to thoroughly clean your horse’s tail and restore moisture to the hair and skin at the same time. After shampooing and rinsing, apply a small amount of COWBOY MAGIC® Rosewater Conditioner to the dock of the tail and massage it into the hair and skin. To condition the long strands of hair, rub a small amount of conditioner on your hands and then work it into the hair using long strokes with your hands. Leave it on for several minutes and then rinse. Rosewater Conditioner will remove the buildup of residue caused by minerals and chemicals in your water. The conditioners penetrate below the surface to moisturize the hair and skin.

8. Give your horse’s tail a bubble bath. A handy trick for washing your horse’s tail is to put a small amount of shampoo into a small bucket and then add water to make it sudsy. Hold the bucket in one hand and dunk your horse’s tail in it with the other. Swish it around thoroughly, then rinse.

9. Get lasting results with COWBOY MAGIC® Detangler & Shine™. Once you have washed and conditioned your horse’s tail, apply a small amount of COWBOY MAGIC® Detangler & Shine™ to the hair, working it in from the top of the tail to the bottom Detangler & Shine™ will help loosen any tangles and prevent new ones from forming. If you want to comb out your horse’s tail, use a large-toothed comb, start at the bottom and comb out small sections at a time while you work your way up the tail. Hold the hair firmly in your other hand while you comb so that if you hit a tangle you won’t pull the hair out.

10. Protect your horse’s tail while it dries with a slip knot. If you want to keep your horse’s tail up off the ground while it dries, put it in a loose slip knot. This way, he won’t be able to step on it and the hair will still dry quickly.

11. Never wrap the top of your horse’s tail. It is nearly impossible to keep a wrap on a horse’s tailbone unless it is so tight that you run the risk of cutting off the circulation. Furthermore, if the wrap irritates your horse, it may actually encourage him to rub his tail.

12. If your horse’s tail touches the ground, you can “put it up” to keep him from stepping on it. Three popular methods for protecting a long, show tail are wrapping, bagging and ragging. Wrapping involves braiding the longest section of the tail, looping it up several times and then wrapping it with a self-sticking bandage. The wrap is hidden inside the center of the tail and the horse is still able to swish flies. Bagging is similar to wrapping, but instead of wrapping the tail, the braid is put down inside a special bag made just for tails, or you can use a large sock. Ragging entails braiding three strips of sheet though the entire tail by wrapping each section in a strip of sheet. The ends are then tied up and the excess sheet gives the horse something to swish.

13. If you have your horse’s tail wrapped, bagged or ragged, be cautious about turning him out in a paddock or pasture where he might get his tail snagged on a fence or tree, or bitten by a pasture mate. As horses swish their tails at flies they often snag hairs on fence posts and lose a few strands in the process. If your horse catches a wrap or piece of ragging on a fence post and panics, the resulting damage could be severe.

14. Even if your horse’s tail is wrapped, bagged or ragged, you still need to care for it regularly. When you remove the braid, straighten the hair using your fingers, rather than a brush or comb. The hair will be kinked from the braid, and combing it will only make it frizzy. The best way to remove the kinks is to wash and moisturize the hair. Hair left bagged, wrapped or ragged for long periods of time is prone to breaking at the point where the bag, rags or wrap is attached. (At our store I recommend re-braiding the tail at least weekly during the summer months when a lot of swishing is needed, and every couple weeks during the winter, when pests are minimal.)

15. An alternative to bagging or wrapping a horse’s tail is to knot it. Knotting involves putting several figure-eight knots in long sections of hair below the end of the tailbone. The knots stay in place, resist tangling and keep the longest part of your horse’s tail up off the ground.

16. If you are showing and want use gel or hairspray to smooth down the short hairs at the top of the tail, wash the tail thoroughly when you are finished. These products are drying and may cause your horse to rub his tail to relieve the itching.

17. To tidy up the appearance of the top of your horse’s tail for the show ring, trim the sides rather than plucking the hairs.

18. Bang your horse’s tail to give it a neater, thicker appearance. “Banging” is the traditional term used to refer to trimming the bottom of your horse’s tail. Banging gives the tail a thick, boxy appearance. For best results, trim it when the hair is wet and combed out. Cut only the longest hairs straight across the bottom.

19. As a safety precaution, stand beside your horse when you groom his tail, not directly behind him. Even if your horse has never kicked at you in his life, you never know when something might startle him. Also, if you are at a public stable, keep in mind that other, less experienced equestrians might be watching you, and so you want to set a good example by demonstrating proper horse-handling skills at all times.

20. Take your time. This is your opportunity to spend quality time with your horse. With your busy life, you may not have time to hand pick shavings out of your horse’s tail one chip at a time, but you should still make every moment with your horse a quality one.

April 9, 2013

Elbow Grease Brings On The Shine

There aren’t really any tricks to getting a gorgeous spring coat on your horses. A little bit of effort goes a long way!
It’s spring, and we all know what that means—shedding! How can you get your horse’s coat into slick, shiny show-ready condition? Liv Gude of Pro Equine Grooms has the answers…

Nothing Beats A Little Bit Of Elbow Grease

  • What’s the best way to get my horse’s furry winter coat shed out quickly so he doesn’t look like a mothball?

A horse that looks like a moth-eaten wooly mammoth or furry monster is sometimes funny but mostly annoying. You can help your horse’s spring shedding a few different ways, but there aren’t really any shortcuts. So, as an added bonus, your arms may get sore and/or buff.
The curry comb may as well be glued to your hand. A good curry comb that is just the right flexibility for your horse is a must for his body and neck. Try out a few different types to find the one your horse responds to best. Some horses like a stiffer curry; others prefer a softer one. For legs, ears, faces and other sensitive areas, the pimple mitts or two-sided jelly curry combs are the best. You can get a lot of feedback from your horse as you curry these more sensitive areas, and you can also fold them in half to get the tricky areas.
All of us routinely use the curry comb before we tack up and ride, which of course helps shedding. But using the curry again after your horse exercises, even if he’s a bit damp with sweat, will take advantage of open follicles and release even more hair. And you can work on even bigger biceps.
You can also let your horse roll in the dirt more outside. Yes, roll more. While this seems contrary to any groom’s idea of a clean and well groomed horse, a good patch of dirt or favorite rolling spot acts like a giant curry comb. Follow with a stiff brush and some major flicking action, and a good part of the shedding process is done for the day.
The metal shedding combs can damage a coat, although I do like them for removing caked-on mud after your horse has wallowed in a mud patch. If you like to use metal combs or blades, please avoid any bony areas of your horse, such as the shoulders and hips, and skip using them on legs, face and ears.
If you have a horse vacuum, this is a great tool to help with shedding season. The horse vacuum is best used after a good curry session, as this brings up the dust and dirt trapped in a longer, wooly coat, and it helps control the flying hairs that have just been shed. It’s much easier to vacuum loose hairs up instead of sending them into the air with the flick of your brush. We can all agree that most of our horse’s hairs sent airborne by a brush end up on us.
Of course, the basis for a good healthy coat is a good healthy diet and exercise program. Work with your equine nutritionist and veterinarian to make sure your horse has the proper vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in the diet that create a healthy coat. This will ensure the new coat coming in will wow you.

It Depends

  • Can/should you clip in the spring?

Of course you can clip in the spring! But, you may not want to. There are a few things to consider first.
As hair grows, it tends to taper and lay naturally. When you clip, all hairs are cut off at exactly the same length, which is a smidge unnatural looking and typically much duller than the coat you started with. However, if this is OK with you, go for it! After a few weeks, a clipped coat does look much more natural.
Another thing to consider is your horse’s color. Some bays turn mousy when clipped, and chestnuts can be more pumpkin-colored after a clip. Again, it’s up to you if you are OK with a possible color change of your horse.
You will also want to think about this—clipping a shedding coat won’t stop the shedding process—it will just make the hairs that will shed out much shorter. You will still have a ton of hair shedding out!
Blanketing is another consideration; even as the days get longer and warmer, the nights can be cold, and your freshly clipped horse will need some blanketing. You will also need to consider extra fly protection and sun protection during the day.
What is your show or clinic schedule like? If you have a creature that resembles part-horse and part-wooly mammoth and a show scheduled for next weekend, consider clipping to create a smooth appearance for the show ring. If your weekends are show-free for a few months, you can skip clipping and depend on the curry comb.

Get Him Blooming

  • What is the best way to get my horse’s coat in gleaming shape for spring shows?

A gleaming show coat comes from the inside out. That gleam, or bloom, is the result of a horse’s own natural oils. Start with a diet that is well balanced, with the proper amounts of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Add a good exercise program and pasture if you have it.
Then, it’s time for your elbow grease and a lot of it. Grooming is a great massage and brings those natural oils out. Try and limit shampoo baths that may strip those oils away. It’s very tempting to shampoo away a stain, but if you allow the natural oils to build up, you end up with shine, and stains will slide off with a damp cloth.
Your gleaming grooming routine should also include appropriate horse clothing to protect your horse’s coat. A waterproof sheet for rainy days, a cotton sheet for cool days and nights, and a fly sheet for warm weather protect your horse from sun, mud, flies and dust. This will save you time, keep that coat from bleaching out and getting stains, and help keep the dust and dirt away.
You can also make an old-fashioned hay wisp, which is rubbed on your horse to create amazing shine. Here’s how: Create a ½” rope from dampened and soft hay. Twist the hay until you have about 6’ of it. Then, create two loops at one end of the rope, one loop slightly larger. So you end up with two loops and one rope. Braid them all together. Ta-dah!! Wisp. When you are done braiding, you can dampen the wisp and even step on it. It should be firm and small enough to hold in one hand. This may take some practice, but it’s worth it! Using this wisp on the horse’s coat in a vigorous action with the direction of the hair will help the coat bloom.

Products are another way to help your horse sparkle and shine.

You will need to decide what works for your budget and style. If you do plan on showing, please practice with any sprays or products before you get to the show, and definitely avoid using them on the saddle area, just in case.

If you create shine from the inside and outside, your horse’s gleam and bloom will set you apart from the rest. Happy showing!

Shared from The Chronicle of the Horse April 8, 2013

April 2, 2013


We very often get questions about which type of dewormer to use or what is the “proper” rotation for dewormers. This video demonstrates how important it is to check with your vet for the correct schedule for your horse. We have all the different dewormers in stock and want to be sure that you are able to get just what your vet recommends!


BTW – if you don’t already subscribe to, you should! It’s free & provides loads of great articles!


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