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How Can I Make My Horse's Mane And Tail Thicker? - Part 2

By Jeffrey Rolo

In the first part of this article we learned about two primary causes of thin manes and tails among horses: genetics and improper brushing/combing of their manes and tails. We will now continue to look at common causes and popular resolutions.

Rub, Rub, Rub Your Tail, Gently Across The Fence…

Yes, I know, a horrible rendition of a maddeningly silly children's song. Forgive me. But the truth is as cheesy as the subtitle was, it does address a very common cause for mane and tail loss. You would be surprised at how many horses rub away their hair when you're not looking!

If your horse's mane and/or tail is thinning over time then I would recommend scanning the fences, stall walls, trees, etc. for strands of hair. See if you can find any consistent evidence that your horse might be rubbing away his hair (I say consistent because virtually all horse's will lose some hair to fences and such, so a few strands don't necessarily make a pattern).

Should you witness your horse rub, or see evidence that he's rubbed consistently, then chances are the symptom the horse is trying to alleviate is itching. The root causes for itching can be fungus and/or collections of grease and dirt around the hair's roots, or in the case of tail rubbing your horse could be in need of a de-worming.

Grass Isn't The Only Thing On The Menu…

If your horse is pastured with another buddy then be careful: the hair loss could be caused by his pal munching away on the mane or tail!

It's a common practice for horses to mutually groom each other, and some minimal mane and tail loss can occur due to this. But in some cases a buddy can actually develop a habit of extensively chewing on manes and tails, and when this happens a perfectly thick mane and/or tail can deteriorate to almost nothing at a shocking rate.

While it's not exactly a common occurrence, it's not a rare or shocking one either. A good clue that this might be the cause is an accelerated and/or uneven deterioration of your horse's mane or tail, as opposed to gradual and consistent thinning.

Let's Wrap It Up

No, not the article… we still have a ways to go. I'm talking about wrapping your horse's mane or tail if you've determined rubbing and/or overenthusiastic grooming by a peer are the causes for the hair loss.

Before going any further I would like to point out that using wraps as a protection against rubbing is similar to taking a pain medication for a broken arm: unless you fix the break and slap your arm in a cast, the medication itself can only shield against the symptoms (pain) as opposed to fixing the cause (the break). So if you see your horse rubbing, there's a reason he's itching and you want to address those reasons rather than simply cover the end results up by using a tail wrap.

Some owners of show-quality horses elect to wrap tails and manes regularly, even if their horses aren't losing significant levels of hair to rubbing or mutual grooming. The wraps can help shield the hair from tangles, debris and direct exposure to the earth and elements (all factors that can reduce the integrity of a mane or tail).

I have never used them, nor do I plan to – I just haven't found there to be a need for them and I believe improper use of them can actually cause additional hair loss. But then again Mountain Horses are genetically inclined to luxurious manes and tails, so they can afford to lose a bit here and there without it being noticed. If your horse has to fight to maintain any strand of hair he can, you can consider trying out a mane and tail wrap. They aren't pretty to look at, but they can be effective if used properly. Personally? I'm not a believer in this "remedy."

In the next installment of this article we'll take a closer look at common horse products we use (i.e., shampoos and detanglers) and see if they can help… or worse, hinder… mane and tail growth.

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