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Horse that holds tail "curled"

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  • Horse that holds tail "curled"

    Hi Everyone- I am considering a horse that holds his tail to the side or "curled", especially in the canter (or when stressed). He is an absolutely gorgeous 6 YO warmblood...Occasionally, he even holds it curled in his stall when he is mildly excited about something.

    Does anyone have any experiences w/ horses that do this, or the cause? He appears 100% sound, beautiful mover....

    How would it effect (if at all) scores in a test?

    Has anyone had any luck correcting this?

    Are there possible injuries that could have caused this....or could it be simply stress related...he is a very sensitive type horse.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Usually that indicates something is wrong with the horse's back (as the tail is basically an extension of the spine), the saddle doesn't fit so it's causing pain, or there is also a genetic cause of this called 'wry tail', where there's nothing wrong with the horse at all, but just kinda has a crooked tail I guess.

    I'd definitely get the horse's back checked out before proceeding. Perhaps a vet with some chiro experience?
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


    • #3
      Have you had a vet check him? My new guy holds his tail slightly to the right -- but he had a back injury. With therapy and careful work, he is getting better and the tail is getting straighter. I think it indicates pain or stiffness in the horse.

      It's called a "wry tail" and I've seen lots of Arabs hold their tails that way. Do what you can to correct it, as I do believe it will affect your scores somewhat.


      • #4
        The tail is an extension of the spine, it can show tension (or be more breed specific like arab....who can actually hold them straight). It should be held lightly away from the body, swing with the gaits, and reveal relaxation of the back.

        It should NOT affect scores UNLESS the back is where the tension is, and the tail is a manifestation of it.

        I have seen horses who do it ONLY with certain riders, who while appearing to be equal have muscle unequalness,.
        I.D.E.A. yoda


        • Original Poster

          Thanks- In the trot he has a beautiful swinging tail...The canter is where I notice the curl the most (and it seems like it curls in both directions, sometimes to R, sometimes to L)...In walk it seems mostly straight...

          If I go ahead w/ the PPE I'll def. have a chiro check him out...

          Thanks again for the replies!


          • #6
            I had a horse that did that at the canter. He was eventually retired for an old injury where he broke his withers and fractured his hip. He cast himself in a trailer and apparently did the damage. he was such an agreeable horse mostly that only years later was his resistance diagnosed as pain. I had Mary Brennan (sp?) examine him. SHe is a holistic vet that does all the body work too. I don't think a regular vet will have a lot to say about the crooked tail. It could be muscular though so don't count the horse out without a full investigation.
            “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
            ? Rumi


            • #7
              We are seeing a lot of non typical EPM symptoms in our area. One horse that was finally diagnosed with it held her tail crooked every time she had a relapse but would return to normal after treatment with marquis.


              • #8
                Is it curled at the bottom, to just held off to one side? THe fact is goes off to the (inside) either direction shows a tension, the question is why? Many times it is the effect of the rider's aids, lack of ability to stretch correctly, sometimes the build of the hip. THe best part is that you say it is not there in trot, that would worry me more.
                I.D.E.A. yoda


                • #9
                  Ditto having the horse examined by a vet who's open to complimentary medicine, or is versed in those techniques (Chiropractic, accupuncture, that sort of thing). My new guy was not helped at all by the traditional vets who examined and treated him, although they did have a well-known vet/chiro work on him. Somehow they "missed the boat" in terms of diagnosis and treatment.

                  You might need a second or third opinion and experiment with several therapeutic techniques, depending on the horse's needs.


                  • #10
                    My stallion & one of his sons has a wry tail. At liberty... when goofing off...

                    BUT--when they are 'through' the tail is lovely, straight and swinging.

                    I would guess at 6 this horse still is tense at canter. Barring any issues the vet check might find... the tail will tattle on you--but it should be straight/swingy when the horse is correct.
                    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                    • #11
                      My mare holds her tail curled to the left much of the time. When she's in heat, it "lives" cocked to the left (kind of like an involuntary "come hither"), and when she's moving at liberty and/or gets "hot" if she holds up her tail it is to the left.

                      Her mother did the exact same thing, so I'm sure it is genetic in her case. She does swing her tail when she's relaxed, etc, it's just that when her tail *is* up, it's always up to the left.



                      • #12
                        Movement in the tail can be a feature, not a flaw. It is desirable in some Spanish breeds (and Arabs) and known as "brio" in the tail. From your description, I'm not sure what you're seeing is a bad thing, if it goes both ways. This is different than a horse who holds his tail crookedly in one direction because of pain or compensation.
                        Kathy Johnson