how to trim the top of your horse's tail

Trim your horse’s tail top without clippers!

This is a great way of grooming for those horse owners out there that want a tidy picture from behind, but without using clippers or a tail pulling technique to get there. Using clippers to trim the top of a tail is risky for the unpracticed, and often unnecessary if you don’t show regularly.


It’s quite easy to tidy up your horse’s tail top with scissors.



before and after a tail trim

Left side wild, right side trimmed up a bit. This horse’s big butt would look silly with a super pulled or clipped tail top.


A word about why you might want to do this.


  • For horse’s that show, a well-manicured tail top helps your horse’s butt cheeks look more muscular.


  • For leaner horses, a close clip or pulling makes this happen.


  • BUT – if your horse’s cheeks are already full, a super lean tail might make his cheeks look TOO big. In cases like this, just trimming the sides is a good idea and is easily done with scissors.




very bushy horse tail after a little tail top trim

This horse is on his way to a tidier tail. A few more passes with the scissors should get him there.


Tidy your horse’s tail with scissors:


  • Start with a clean tail that has been detangled. Let it sort of hang out naturally so you can see how the hairs fall to the sides of the tailbone.
  • If you keep your scissors parallel to the tailbone, your tail will be awesome when you are done.
  • Start trimming the sides of your horse’s tail from the outside in. It helps to point your scissors down on the first few passes. Graze along the hairs poking out. Going for the big chunks will likely end in disaster.


uses scissors up and down to tidy up the tail top

Starting with the scissors down may help you shave off a little bit at a time instead of accidentally cutting a chunk out of the tail top.


  • Alternate sides that you are working on. You may go back and forth a dozen times.
  • You will reach a point where you can start to hold your scissors up to get the tiny strays that poke out to the sides.


scissors to trim the sides of the tail
When you like the general shape, you can point your scissors up to get the remaining strays.
  • You may need to work on this over a few days to see how you like it. You may also decide that your horse’s tail is so thick that going shorter on the hairs that are closer to the underside of his tail will create a nicer picture. It’s up to you how much to take off!
  • To prep the tail for a clinic or a show, you may want to smooth the tailbone hairs down with a braiding product or use a tail wrap while you are getting him groomed and ready to show. For more on tail wraps, read this article!



Easy, right?