Horse tails when riding - what can it tell you?

Scarlett 001

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Sep 16, 2003
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I am wondering what kind of position a horse's tail would be in for a happy and relaxed horse when riding? I am just curious as I seem to recall Skeeter used to keep his tail quite flat without a lot of movement. Recently I have noticed it looks more relaxed and moves around a whole lot more (not annoyed swishing, but a more graceful floating), and sometimes he even seems to be lifting it a bit (in a kind of relaxed looking and perky way - he seems relaxed at these times).

How does one interpret the "body language" of a horse's tail (both under saddle and in turnout)? What can it tell you about their state of mind and mood etc.?
 

Mehitabel

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relaxed is good. clamped is bad, angry lashing is bad - both are indicators of tension. swinging in time with the stride is good. holding it to the side can mean a back problem.
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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When I first put a crupper and harness on a horse they clamp the tail, and there it stays until they are happy that we are not about to eat them. When I can see a tail being carried and soft it indicates he is happier. None of our lot have extravigant tail carriage, but the odd swish is fine, you can tell when Hákon is getting cross, all you can hear is "swishy, swishy" from behind you!

Our Welsh D in the field would do fantastic extended trot with his tail in the air, ....never did it in harness or under saddle.!

The way I look at it, if there is stiffness in tha back it will run from the nose to the tip of the tail, if the horse is moving free-er with strenght and supplness it can't help but show in the tail.
 

Scarlett 001

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Wally said:
Our Welsh D in the field would do fantastic extended trot with his tail in the air, ....never did it in harness or under saddle.!
I hinted at it in initial post, but Skeeter is lifting his in the air more and more these days kind of like you describe here (but we are not doing extended trot!). One time I looked in the mirror and it was really quite high in the air (not to the side, it was centered). He looked relaxed and in no pain. I guess this is a good thing probably based on what you wrote?

Skeeter had issues years ago (not since I have had him) with the farthest back portion of the back I hear (his back conformation is not the best and jumping was a lot of stress on him). The vet commented on pre-purchase check that his hind end (well, entire back) needed strengthening, and was happy I'd be doing low-level dressage with him, and not jumping. Maybe the slow and steady build up of his muscles through our riding has made him more strong and relaxed in the hind.
 

Tootsie4U

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Aug 19, 2002
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Wont some naturally carry it higher - some arabs for instance.

Some say that a horse whose carrying his tail sideways indicates that he needs to be adjusted by the chiro.
 

Rips

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May 23, 2004
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Mo has started lifting her tail to the side when I am grooming her quarters? Not the same thing is it? She due her chiro recheck anyhow....
Not high and over like she would if she was in season, but just over to whichever side I'm on :confused: