urine stained tail

Clean your horse’s urine-stained tail


  • Mares present a few special grooming (and handling) considerations. For some mares, their tails are a urine-soaked, sticky mess that can be a nightmare to deal with.

Tips on managing just such a tail.


  • Remember that the quality of your horse’s hair that grows from the tailbone is a result of diet, genetics, climate and overall health. No product can “create” the perfect tail, but some can help us groom the tail to make it better and less likely to break.


  • Also remember that daily care for a few minutes a day is much easier than massive, last-ditch efforts when things are horribly sticky, tangled, and stained.



yellow tail on white horse

This gelding’s tail is stained and sticky from gross bedding.


Don’t brush a brittle tail


  • Start from scratch if you need to and maintain your horse’s tail from there. Create a clean, stain-free tail that is conditioned and “sealed” and then you can begin your daily care. Start by using a mild shampoo and conditioner followed by a white vinegar rinse/soak. Use a gentle whitening shampoo if you like.


  • You may be tempted to go crazy with laundry detergent. However, these detergents are made for your pants and saddle pads and what-not, not your horse. Detergents can make the tail hairs more brittle and prone to picking up stains.


  • Shampoo, condition, and white vinegar again. And again if you need to. You can do the white vinegar treatment easily by dunking the tail into a bucket and holding it there for a few minutes,


  • Follow with a detangler. I like to use one when the hair is damp, and I will only pick out and/or brush the tail when it’s almost dry.


NOW you have a basis to start daily care. For some mares, these options will help you prevent urine stains and urine damage to the tail:


  • Tail bags. I’ve never been a huge fan, but for some horses, they are wonderful. Never use them above the tail bone, and undo them every day. You will compromise fly control, and some horses don’t tolerate them at all. For some mares, they act as a urine collecting bag and you have more stains than without the bag.


  • Braid the tail. And I don’t mean for a show or below the tailbone. I’m talking about the shorter hairs that grow from the tail bone. You can see them when you (and your mare) hold the tail out parallel to the ground.


  • These sections of that hair fall down are the most likely to be soaked with urine and therefore brittle and subject to breakage….see the cycle? Consider doing a very loose french braid with these sections to keep them out of the urine stream. Keeping it loose helps prevent tail scratching and rubbing and helps your mare stay comfortable.


chestnut horse tail short hairs near the top

These shorter tail hairs are often coated in urine.


loose braid to avoid urine

A loose braid can “contain” the shorter hairs, and a loose braid is usually not itchy!



loose braid to keep tail out of urine

Just braid down to the end of the tailbone. This saves the bulk of the tail for fly protection. I use a sturdy human hair ponytail holder for extra durability.


  • Gently wash as needed, followed by a horse conditioner and white vinegar. The vinegar helps with stain removal, removed odors, and rinses away any shampoo or conditioner residue. Keeping the tail untangled daily and clean will help you prevent stains and breakage.


conditioner in a horse's tail

Keep the tail soft, conditioned, and slick to prevent further stains.


go shopping button for horse products


I like the following products for tail care. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Does this cost you more? NO WAY! And thank you for your support!

Shapley’s EquiTone – Whitening 32 oz. – for gray and white tails.

Shapley’s Hi Shine Shampoo, 1-Quart – for tails of any color.

Shapley’s No.1 Light Oil – for deep conditioning and wind knot removal.

Thank you!