Most effective: Breed a mare and stallion with nice tails. Most of a nice tail is genetic. If those genes are for skimpy tails, the best you can do is keep the hair clean and conditioned and detangled so it doesn't get pulled out on buckets, fencing, etc, and handle it gently (don't rip a brush through it). Aside from making sure they eat a good diet, that's about it.
I have 3 horses right now. One has a very thin short tail, one is intermediate, and one is like a conifer. It has nothing to do with me. Horses are just like people. Some have super thick hair that grows like a weed, and some have very little.
As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.
FP has a stunning tail despite apparent lack of care - quality hay with sufficient protein, oats, flax, BOSS, never brushed (hand "picked" only), rarely washed ... most horses at the barn receive far more "detailing" & lotions & sprays & special wraps & bags & whatnot ...
(FP would leave home if he had to endure all of that )
Mostly just genetics. I have two Morgan geldings, same feed, same tail care, same everything. Remy has a gorgeous long thick tail. Aries has a gorgeous long tail about half the thickness of Remy's. I condition, tail wraps in the winter.
I keep telling Tip he would do me a favor if he devoted some of the energy he spends growing a luscious lion mane into growing a tail. It would be a fine tail if he were a large pony. As it is, his tail makes his butt look big.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
I think other than genetics the key is to protect it from being pulled out, which happens every day to most horses. I find tail hairs stuck to the rough cut lumber of my barn walls, on buckets if they scratch themselves, when other horses bite them in the butt...etc. etc. Then there are all the hairs WE pull out when detangling, brushing, bathing, braiding, etc.
So probably using a tail bag and/or some type of braid to keep the flyaways from getting caught on things would help. As well as not brushing a lot, using your fingers to gently pull the tangles out, etc.
We have a horse at the barn who has an incredibly thick tail- it takes 15 minutes to comb through- despite being ripped through with a brush once or twice a day by the owner's rather beginner (but incredibly loving when it comes to their mother's horse) kids. It's usually genetics, but if you protect the tail from becoming tangled and caught on things it generally will look pretty good.
Vetrolin Shine. Detangle with fingers and leave it alone. Spritz periodically and detangle (best to detangle when the spray dries).
I just picked this up on Friday and used it yesterday for the first time. I think I like it! Its a lot lighter than that Eqyss avocado one that I had for a while. I'm hoping the sunscreen in i might help protect her mane from the slight sun bleaching she experiences in the summer.
I wash, condition, braid and bag my horse's tail at the beginning of mud season in the fall, and keep it up until the bugs come out in the spring. I'll take it down every 4-6 weeks, recondition, rebraid, and bag during the winter. I braid down to the end, then weave the end of the braid through the section of tail below the tail bone to make it short. I made a special tail bag that I used for several years, but this year I just put a sport sock over the tail, put a broccoli elastic over the sock above the bump made by weaving the end of the braid up and down, and pulled the top part of the sock down over the elastic. The bottom of the braided up tail sits well above the hocks. For most of the period his tail is braided up he's wearing a blanket which reduces the chances of catching the top of the braid on anything.
In the summer I keep the tail length trimmed to the middle/bottom of his fetlocks. As soon as I see the tips brushing the ground when he's resting a leg I grab the scissors. Other than that I don't do a lot with it other than keep the bottom half brushed out (working from the bottom up) in the summer. He needs his tail for flies, so he gets it.
The routine of keeping it out of the mud and up all winter has made a huge difference, but it took a few years to see it. I found the worst time for losing chunks was during mud season when the ends got mud coated and would more easily catch on things. He doesn't have a lot of tail hair, but what he does have is quite long so it appears like a lot of hair. Just to give you an idea the first year I braided it up the end of the braid was thinner than a pencil 8" from the end of the tail. Now it's thicker than my thumb right up to the end. About double that 4" from the end. It looks great.
When I trim it (I trim flat - bang it) I then take the thinning shears to the last couple of inches, or do vertical snips with the regular scissors. For some reason having all the hairs the same length makes them tangle more right at the end - the thinning or vertical snips greatly reduces this tangling.
If you can't change genetics, find yourself a Morgan show barn. They know how to grow tails. There is a magic trick to putting tails up using vetwrap that can be left untouched for months. The tail bags just rip out hairs.
Originally Posted by envoke
Don't ever bring a brush to your horse's tail, just leave it alone for a few months.
If you want to untangle it, spray a lot of detangler and separate the strands of hair by hand
Yes. But if you're doing it "right", you don't use a detangler. You simply wash it and then separate each strand by hand. But who has time for that!