Tail-bagging ( is that a word? it is now. ) is something that I get a lot of questions about, typically from my English followers. My western girls know the deal. Bagging a horse’s tail serves many purposes, but the two biggest being …
- To aid in growing the tail.
- To protect a long or thick tail.
The tail bag can aid in growth in two ways. Protection and weight. The bag will protect your current tail, and allow it to grow. A tail will never grow if it’s constantly being pulled out or snagged on trees, fences, stalls, etc. Let’s not even mention pasture mates who enjoy tail chewing. The bag greatly cuts down on damage. The added weight of a tail bag, although small, will encourage the hair to grow longer.
The reason that most use a tail bag is to protect an already fabulous tail. Like I mentioned above, there are many ways for a tail to be damaged by environmental factors – and a tail bag almost completely reduces that damage. The bag comes in handy in my situation because I don’t have to dye West’s tail quite as frequently. He lives outdoors, so his long, black tail tends to bleach pretty easily. I can dye it, and keep it bagged for months before ever needing to dye it again. Without a bag, I typically dye on a monthly basis. If you have a gray horse – a tail bag is your friend. Keep that tail white and clean!
When NOT to use a bag – for me, there’s almost no reason not to. The only time West does not have his tail in a bag is during show season when he’s showing more than once a week, or for special occasions like photos or trips.
How to …
- Wash and condition the tail.
- Let the tail dry.
- Add a leave in conditioner – optional. I use coconut oil.
- Braid the tail.
- Leave the first two or three strands of the braid loose, as not to irritate the tail bone. A tight braid at the top can agitate the horse and actually cause rubbing and itching – defeating the purpose of the tail bag.
- Secure the tail with multiple braiding bands, in multiple places. This way, if one band breaks while your horse is wearing the bag ( common ) you still have backup bands keeping the braid and tail bag in pace. I do a few bands at the bottom of the braid, and one or two halfway up the tail.
- Bag the tail.
- Depending on what type of bag you’re using, the way you attach it to the tail will be different. I recommend following the directions to make sure that you secure the bag as best as possible.
- WHATEVER YOU DO – do NOT tie anything around the tail bone or dock of the tail. Your bag should not even be near the tail bone, it should be a few inches below.
- Repeat this entire process once a week or once every two weeks, whichever you prefer.
Using a leave in conditioner and then bagging the tail prolongs the life and effectiveness of that conditioner. West’s tail will still be oily one week after applying coconut oil and bagging, where if I were to apply oil and not bag – all oil would be gone the next day. This also exponentially increases the health, strength, and growth rate of the hair.
I have two preferred tail bags, and both are the sleezy material. I find that this silky type material is more gentle on the hair. Nylon rubbing back and forth on the tail all day or silk? You choose. My two favorite bags are the Sleazy Sleepwear For Horses Standard Horse Tail Bag and the Sleezy Sleepwear For Horses 3 Tube Horse Tail Bag. If you have a horse who you think will try to get his bag off, or who is a violent “swisher,” I would opt for the latter bag – the braid in. It’s more sturdy and less likely to come off out in the field.
Using a tail bag is easy and low maintenance, and it has great effects on improving and preserving your horse’s tail that you worked so hard for. It may not look all that pretty, but who cares? What’s inside the bag is what counts, and you want to protect that at all costs!
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