How can I groom the top of my horse's tail?


So, after so much discussion about pulling manes, we are now at the other end of the horse and will tackle pulling tails, and other ways to groom tails.  Keep in mind, this may not work for every horse or every owner.  Just like pulling manes.  But it's nice to have options, right?  Many horses have zero objections to having their tail pulled.  Some horses do object.  There are other ways to get a tidy tail top, this is just one of them.  


The main reason for pulling or clipping the dock of the tail is to present a tidy tail top.  This also can really flatter a horse's butt, which can really show off your horse in the ring.  It's very common in eventing, where the naturally sleek and torpedo like horses can use some help in the "how does my butt look" department.  Other disciplines, the tail tops are natural or braided.  For the horse with large buttocks...ahem...pulling or clipping a tail top will only make his buttocks look bigger.  Not always a good thing. 


The first photo is of a horse whose tail used to be clipped, and I let it grow out.  This is a good example of a "natural" tail top.  


Mig's natural tail top.

Here is a photo of a horse whose tail has been groomed. See how much nicer for the show ring? This horse had the sides of his tail clipped.



This tail belongs to a young dressage horse. 


How do you go from jungle to sleek city street? You either pull or clip.


Either way, you wil be removing the same hairs, on either side of the dock.  Whatever method you choose, start with a clean and dry tail.




You can scissor the tail hairs, clip them, or pull them.  For the first time, I suggest using scissors.  If you simply trim the wild hairs by holding the scissors vertically alongside the dock, your tail will look a zillion times less shaggy.  If you use clippers, have a really good idea how and where you want them to go.  I suggest starting on the very underside of the tail, and not too far down.  If you need to clip more, you can.  The photo below shows the approximate area to clip.








For pulling the tail, you simply need your hand and some patience.  Grab a few hairs and yank downward.  To prevent damage to your fingers, wear a latex glove for grip.  This is going to take a while.  You don't have to build Rome in one day.  Or even a week.  And you don't have to go overboard, like most of us do when clipping our own bangs.  




For safety's sake, please use a human buddy to help you.  If you have no idea how your pony will react, have your buddy back him up to a stall door an then hang his tail over the door.  No horseshoe shaped marks on your person, please.  






I spotted this tail at RK3DE.




For the ends of the tail, banging it is very popular.  This creates a blunt end across and a very clean finish.  For this, have your horse hold a stick or polo wrap under his tail.  This mimics how he would carry the tail in the show ring.  Then grab the tail, run your hands almost to the end, and chop across.  




And now you have a groomed tail.