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My gray mare's tail--growing in cleaner vs. change in hair color due to "something"?

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  • My gray mare's tail--growing in cleaner vs. change in hair color due to "something"?

    So I'm keeping my farrier's mare at my house and will be foaling her out in May. (win-win: they have a place to keep the mare in relative luxury, I get free shoes/trims!) She came to them after being in a pretty rough place, and although she was safely pregnant she was very ribby and not in great shape when they got her. I've had her here since late October, and she's thriving now, doing very nicely if I do say so.

    Anyhow, her mane and tail, since I've had her, have grown in BRIGHT white, whereas her tail especially, and also her mane, were a rusty red when I got her. Haven't bathed her, and I assume the coloration of her tail/mane is just dirt. But you'd think the "new growth" would be just as dirty because although my place is nice, it's not THAT nice--the horses ARE exposed to dirt, lie in it, walk around on it, and I'm fairly certain my dirt is as dirty as anyone else's.

    But check out the pictures--the new growth on the tail in particular is strikingly different in color from the top. Less noticeable in the mane, especially in the photo--mare kept following me looking for a handout.

    So, just cleaner hair? Or can I pat myself on the back for fixing something? Not that I think the critter needed anything more than . . . MORE . . . in the groceries department. She is the closest thing to a hard keeper I've ever had, mainly due to the large parasite, of course. My other horses eat like 1/2 pound of concentrate a day, she's on FIVE.
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  • Original Poster

    Oy, it would help if I attached the photos . . .
    Attached Files
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    • #3
      Sorry to be a bummer but mares pee on their tails and turn them that color. Sorry, sorry.. sorry! But indeed the better nutrition will make better hair quality and it will resist the nastiness better..

      It is also possible that she was previously stabled somewhere w/clay soil, particularly red clay... I have a friend who has started spraying her mares tail w/some enzyme thing like Natures Miracle and it is WHITE after being that color (she lives on Red Mountain Road, you get the idea). Amazing.
      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


      • #4
        Actually, that yellow is very common in the graying process. Ever notice how some "old ladies" get "yellow" hair before it really turns white/silver?

        Not all horses do it, I don't know if it's related to how they gray (ie roaning vs dappling, etc), but it's quite common.
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          How many times have you made motions toward that mane with a pulling comb?

          I'd go for mare pee tail. Wash it really well and braid it up.


          • Original Poster

            I grew up in a town called Red Bank, aptly named for the tenacious red clay. None of that in SW Michigan, thank goodness!

            She wallows in our dirt just like I presume she wallowed at her last place. I like the "healthier hair repels dirt better" theory. I am so clueless about gray horses!

            So tell me more about this Nature's Miracle stuff--is it a cleaning product or something? I'd sure like for her to sparkle when it comes time for baby pictures.

            My piebald Shetland is just naturally dirt-resistant and her white patches are always SPARKLING white (unless she's just rolled) and between all my other horses I have two little white socks, so I've never had to worry much about gross-looking white parts.
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            • Original Poster

              ETR, it's not my mare, and although I brush the mane (obviously not before those pictures were taken) it's not my mane to pull--her owner likes her long locks.
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              • #8
                I'll go with the healthier theory. Not a horse example, but our own dog (who you know DW!) We got her from a shelter at about 1 year old. Her coat was very rough--not pleasant to touch. I assumed it was just her mixed breeding that had landed her with a rough coat. Anyway--a few months after we adopted her, she "blew" her entire coat and grew in this soft, fluffy coat. I thought that it was just her "annual shedding" because she is (very likely) part husky and they tend to "blow" their coats in the spring. However, it never happened again. Now, she just sheds gradually and has since continued to have a lovely coat. I figured it must have had to do with a healthier diet, better living conditions, etc. So that MUST be what it is!


                • #9
                  Better grade of protein will cause any hair to grow better and be a better quality. I've had horses and dogs do this after purchase or adoption.

                  Good hay makes good hair!

                  BTW, Nature's Miracle is one of those products that they sell in pet stores to clean up dog and cat pee and reduce the smell that encourages them to use that spot again. It is an enzyme product, but I've never used it for a tail! I'd just wash and use a healthy amount of Quik Silver a few times. That should fix it right up.
                  \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo


                  • #10
                    Are you feeding her any flax or oil? Mine are positively teflon as long as I give them a little Omega Horseshine and about 1/4C of oil in their TC Lite and alf pellets. My chestnut had three white sox and they stay remakably clean now, much more so than when I got him and he was in pretty poor condition. I vote you get a pat on the back, in spite of all the theories above (my mares all had black tails ... tho I never had the feeling that they peed on their tails, just that they sometimes sat in a wet spot and then they would get yucky. Or if they were in heat, which this mare presumeably has not been since she's been with you)
                    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                    Spay and neuter. Please.


                    • Original Poster

                      Yes, they are all getting a couple of ounces of whole flax seed a day. For a while after I moved my horses home from a boarding barn they didn't want to eat the naked seeds because they were used to beet pulp and everything mixed up in a nice wet mash. But I guess with as little grain as they get now (my hay is really good) they figure that anything in the feed tub is worth gobbling, and that includes flax seeds again!

                      I just love the sharp demarcation of the gray vs. yellow--and yup, I'm taking full credit.
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                      • #12
                        I'm with the 'better feed = better hair quality" crowd.

                        I got a white medicine hat mare in two years ago. Her mane was quite 'yellow' in that way that white paints get. This year it is long, and fluffy and WHITE. Sure, it's dirty--it's mud season, after all, but as soon as you get the mud off, it's white vs. yellow.

                        My pinto stallion's white has always been fishbelly white. That rainbow, SILVER white. Even when it's dirty underneath... (i.e. just rolled) it's got that rainbow trout look.

                        I credit flax, Boss, rice bran and oil. Not necessarily all at once, but usually at least one, if not two or three of them...

                        And he's not all that prissy about STAYING clean, he just LOOKS clean.
                        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

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


                        • #13
                          Yes, my leopard appy is like that, Pintopiaffe. Iridescent white, even when dirty, no yellow undertone, unless he's been lying in pee...


                          • #14
                            Red clay. When I lived in red clay country with my gray horses, they all looked like that. The new growth is the natural color. As the hair grows out (lower to the ground) it comes in closer contact with the red soil and absorbs the color. The red clay color is almost impossible to get rid off. I once had a dog jump on me with muddy paws, I was never able to get the paw prints off my pink shirt.
                            The quick silver shampoo helps.


                            • Original Poster

                              Except there is no red clay in SW Michigan. Thank God!
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                              • #16
                                Probably a mixture of several things

                                Better nutrition, results in better quality hair, newer hair less time to get stained with urine or clay or what ever. Plus the hair has has not yet been bleached by the sun, and thus made coarser and more inclined to absorb what is in the environment.

                                Or all of the above plus a few I haven't thought of.
                                Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                                Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                                New edition of book is out:
                                Horse Nutrition Handbook.



                                • #17
                                  Look at her... she is a grey. Greys always start some color, I bet in her case she was born chestnut. As greys go to white, many go through the dapple phase like your girl is doing. The mane and tail hair start going through changes too. Hair on the body will shed and replace itself completely out over the course of a year, while it takes much longer for mane and tail hair to grow out. You are just seeing her transition into a grey horse. Some will take years to go totally white, others seem to go practically over night but the knees/hocks and manes/tails always seem to take forever.

                                  It may be that the hormones produced during her pregnancy are accelerating things a bit, and certainly the nutrition will make her healthier. But I think you are seeing a typical grey transition. Some of it might be dirt or pee stain - well not on her mane - a good "blue" shampoo or even oxyclean mixed in warm water will help remove that. I bet you will just see clean chestnut hair though

                                  Congratulations on getting her into good health and best wishes on your upcoming foal!


                                  • Original Poster

                                    She was born a dark bay, and I do get that they gradually change colors. I thought the sharp demarkation was interesting, though--when she got here her whole tail was that rusty red color.
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                                    • #19
                                      When I look at the photos I feel the need to play hairdresser.

                                      (my guys all got baths today -scrubadubdub)

                                      My grey mare had that yellowing. I'm sure her healthy new coat and hair is due to your good care - and the old tail hair is urine, dirt, age, sun, etc. It's a real bear to get out. Ivory dish soap does wonders, believe it or not. So does stuff like Oxyclean, Borax, stuff like that. A tint of laundry bluing in the rinse and voila - pretty white tail. Or at least whiter tail.

                                      I'll never own a grey again (I know, famous last words!)
                                      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                      -Rudyard Kipling


                                      • Original Poster

                                        my guys all got baths today
                                        Oooh, envy. I'm bringing my leased gelding home this weekend and am dying to give everyone a day-long spa treatment . . . IF the weather holds and IF my beeper is merciful.
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