How to deal with a tail chewing horse!
Tail chewing can be quite the pain in the butt to deal with. You have the tail-chewing culprit, who makes mincemeat of his buddies, and then you have the buddies who have “altered” tails. You also have an increased risk of some tummy troubles for the horse that chews tails, so it’s best to nip the behavior in the bud.
- For the most part, tail chewing is very common in foals. Sometimes it is seen in older horses, but it’s usually the young ones you need to worry about. If you are confused about which horse in the herd is the tail chewer, he’s the one with the unchewed tail.
- Foals that tail chew might do so for a few reasons, including boredom, curiosity, new teeth, or perhaps a diet or mineral imbalance. For the possible diet imbalance, it’s important to check with your veterinarian or equine nutritionist to make sure your growing foal has all of his nutrition needs met.
Reduce boredom and you reduce the tail chewing!
Other reasons for tail chewing
- For older, adult horses, you are also contemplating the same reasons for tail chewing – boredom, or diet or mineral imbalance.
- Also, consider a general lack of forage as a possibility. Your horse’s diet may be perfectly balanced for his nutrition needs, but if he can’t chew enough, he may look for alternative things to chew. Long stem forage is the key here – not chaff, cubes, or pellets. Is his pasture time adequate, if you are lucky enough to have pasture?
- Foals and adult horses often benefit from a few weeks of separation from the herd if they begin to chew tails, assuming the boredom or diet issues are also addressed. You may also want to provide toys and increase the long stem forage amount that your horse can eat.
Use a tail “potion” on the tasty tails being eaten.
- There are a zillion recipes, but here are some thoughts about them. Most of the recipes either involve some sort of hot pepper. These contain capsaicin and may test positive at shows.
- You can also coat your horse’s tail with a thick paste of your favorite horse conditioner or grooming oil. These make the tail goopy and dirty (unfortunately). On the upside, your horse will have a beautifully soft tail.
- What about using a tail bag? If your horse can still swat flies with some wispy outside of the tail bag, you might give this a go.
Hot sauce is a deterrent, to say the least.
- You can mix hot sauce with vinegar and water for a spray, or add hot sauce or hot paste to a conditioner and add to the tail like a cream.
- The downside (besides it being capsaicin) is that if your spicy tail swats fly, the color and sting and possible skin irritation can bother his belly and sides and legs and paddock mate eyes.
- For gray tails, any hot sauce mixture red or colored will likely stain the tail and anywhere that tail swats.
Goop on the conditioner and leave it! The tail eating pasture buddy should leave your horse’s tail alone after this!
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