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Are You Hurting or Helping Your Horse's Mane & Tail? - The 3 Do's and Don'ts of Mane & Tail Care!

groom mane and tail grooming tips horse grooming

Your horse's mane and tail:
Your pride & joy! 

All horses come naturally endowed with manes and tails of varying fullness.
Just like in humans, there are differences in thickness and consistency of individual hair
and in fullness - meaning how many individual hairs per square inch.
  • But are you making the most of your horse's mane & tail?
  • Do you (unknowlingly) contribute to a thin, dry, and brittle appearance?

horse with beautiful mane and tail

Here the 3 Do's and Don'ts of Mane & Tail Care:

DO NOT shampoo too often!

Even high quality horse shampoo can dry out the horse's natural hair conditioning oils that are secreted from a little gland at the root of each hair. Shampoo only if you plan to show or - if not showing - no more than once per month during the warmer season. 

DO NOT use a comb on the tail!

You can use a mane comb on short manes without problem. But never, ever use a comb on the tail. It takes about 2 years for a tail hair to grow out! Instead, use a high-quality, durable horse tail brush - only AFTER using detangler!

DO NOT brush manes & tails without detangler

brushing horse's tail without pulling out hairOld-school grooming guidelines say: "NEVER use a brush or comb on the tail. Separate the hair with your hands only." This was before mane and tail detangler products were available and is still good advice, if you'd rather not use a detangler.

If you want to brush your horse's tail, spray on a good conditioning detangler, such as our favorite FoxFire Mane & Tail Detangler and Conditioner, let it dry completely, then carefully brush from the bottom up, always holding the tail hair firmly above the section that you are brush (see image).

DO (Yes!) soak mane & tail before washing

  • Dilute a gentle mane & tail shampoo in a bucket of warm water.
  • Lift the bucket to the tail and put all of the tail into the bucket to cover the tail with suds.
  • Use a sponge to thoroughly soak the dock of the tail.
  • Remove the bucket without squeezing out the suds.
  • Do the same with the mane.
  • Wait about 3-5 minutes.
  • Then thoroughly rinse mane & tail.

This will give the shampoo some time to do it's magic without rubbing and damaging the hair!

DO rinse (very) thoroughly

The number one cause of dry and brittle manes and tails is use of shampoos containing harsh chemicals, followed by not rinsing thoroughly! The shampoo residue remains in the mane or tail, where it dries out the hair. The hair gets brittle and breaks off. Using a gentle shampoo and rinsing thoroughly prevents damage. Rinse until all water runs off clear!

DO use mane & tail conditioner after every wash

The surface of the individual hair can either be rough or smooth, as there are scale-like shapes visible under the microscope. Making these little scales smooth with conditioner makes the tail good-looking, shiny, resilient tail - but also protects the hair from breakage and staining! Meaning, if you use a good mane & tail conditioner, you do not have to shampoo as often...

More TIPS in a nut shell:

  • Never pull when brushing! If you have to pull, you are using the wrong tool or you did not use detangler!
  • Use a flick or dandy brush after hand combing your horse's clean, washed and dry tail. It will look fantastic!
  • Avoid frequent shampooing and even combing/brushing the tail! Instead, hand-pick hay and debris out of mane and tail, massage dock and crest for good blood circulation and shampoo and brush less often, but always gently and thoroughly!

Questions? Ideas? Please send an email to

 Enjoy your horse!

stefanie reinhold

Stefanie Reinhold

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