Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tail Trouble and Footfall Video

I went to the barn today to check on my girl and brought my camera, complete with charged battery. Yay me! I also brought along my BF's camera because it has the ability to take video.

After I started brushing her, I realized she was FILTHY and brushing wasn't going to cut it. It was hot and she hadn't had a bath in a while, so I grabbed the bathing stuff and went to work. She seemed to enjoy it quite thoroughly.

When I got done with her body, I decided to let her tail down and wash that as well. She seemed quite sensitive when I touched her tailbone, but she's never been one to relax her tail when I'm messing with it. After applying the conditioner, I started to comb through the tangles... and a lot of hair was coming out. She usually sheds some hair, but it was coming out in piles. I rinsed everything out and moved her from the wash area to the cross ties in the barn aisle so I could get a better look.

This is what I saw:

The area on her tail where the tail bag was tied can be seen in the lowest circle. It was scabby looking and from what I could tell (Lilly was not cooperative at all) went all the way around her tailbone. There were a few other areas that had pussy looking skin, like the other circled area on the photo, and then some spots on her tail that were bare.

The tail bag fiasco happened just over a week ago and after a few days had passed I thought we were in the clear, but from what I've seen today, it looks like her tailbone was impacted somewhat by the tight tail bag. It seems weird to me that some of her skin above the tail bag is affected, but she's not nearly as sensitive in that area.

I decided to cut about 3 inches of tail off and leave it unbraided. I hope that's a better choice than braiding it and keeping it up... I thought leaving it alone be might be the best thing for her at this point in time. I rubbed in a little bit of antibiotic cream hoping that will help as well. Poor Lilly... :(

After I was done with her tail, I set up the camera to try and get a video of her footfalls. I did the best I could with what I had, but I understand if you all laugh at my efforts.

Here's the video:

And here are a few stills I took from the video:

Hind foot lands flat?
Definitely toe first in the front.
The video isn't the best as far as quality, but when I tried to slow it down to see how her feet were landing, it looked like she was landing toe first in the front and fairly flat with her hind feet.

I'm anxious to hear what everyone else thinks.


  1. You may need some special formula shampoo for her tail. I had a hunter pony mare with it a long time ago. It was some type of fungus, not really related to the tail bag issue, but more likely the heat and humidity

  2. According to the hunter/jumpers I used to board with the best way to have a beautiful tail was to never touch it and then finger comb with showsheen on show day.

    You already knew she was landing toe first on the front, that was obvious from her feet. I wouldn't worry too much about her hinds right now. They really do look pretty good and the wearing at the toe could be because he left her hoofwall long and she wears it off during the breakover.

    Let me know if you need help finding a trimmer. I can ask around online for you.

  3. I agree; I never touch Milo's tail except for very special occassions like a show. I leave it alone and it is all one length and purty if i do say so myself. Remember too that he is kept on a pasture with lots of things to get it caught on and yet (knock on wood) he does not.

  4. Interesting, Sam... I'll do some research on that!

    Smazourek, because I was showing so much, I couldn't just let Lilly's tail go without brushing. Actually, it was being brushed a lot because of all the shows. So to keep it as clean and tangle free as possible (to minimize brushing), I braided it and put it in a bag. It had been working really well, but I didn't count on the situation that we recently encountered. :(

    If I switch to barefoot, I'm guessing the shows will have to stop for a while, so I'll just let her tail go. She can be a normal horse for a while. :)

    And thank you... I'll let you know if I get a response from the few trimmers I contacted today.

  5. Milo, I don't know how you do it, but you always manage to comment just as I post a response to other comments. LOL

    Lilly's tail hairs seem to break fairly easy, but the braid and bag was to minimize the maintenance it required before a show. It just needs to be put in properly. :(

  6. Oh no! Lilly's pretty tail! My friend Jan and I take care of our horses tails completely differently, and we both have horses with very nice tails. Jan never touches her horses' tails until show day, and they are long and thick and beautiful. I put Cowboy Magic detangler on my hands and stroke it through and gently brush every day, and my horses have nice tails too. Except the Clydes, who have docked tails. I think that's barbaric (sp?). It took me about 3 years to grow Boomer's tail out - I used a tail bag to protect him from the flies until he grew a tail. Poor Ben has that little stub. He's getting a tail bag tomorrow to protect him from flies and help it grow out. That's one good thing about living in a semi-desert - we are just starting to see some flies from all the rain. We're usually pretty fly free.

  7. Wow, fly free?? I can only wish for such a thing here! I feel bad for draft horses with their little nubs too, flies or not. :(

    Some horses just seem to have naturally beautiful tails, but Lilly isn't one of those horses. I usually keep her tail up for the winter and then let it down for the summer, but this year I kept it in the bag since she was only going outside at night.

    I just hope nothing worse happens than what I saw today.

  8. You are going to think that I am stuck on this toe thing...and I suppose I kind of am because break-over is so important on barrel horses, but I think the reason Lilly is landing toe first is because her break-over is too slow.

    Watch the off front hoof in the video. When a horse has too long of a toe and a slow break-over, it is difficult for them to extend the other leg and land that foot properly.

    Keeping my fingers crosse that you find a good trimmer...

    And that no more damage shows up in Lilly's tail. Yikes!

    I do find it ironic that you are contemplating going barefoot and I decided to get shoes on Moon. It's only a temporary thing due to our heavy competition schedule. I just think he is getting a bit stiff in his shoulders due to having to tippy-toe across so much gravel.

  9. Cowgirl, I see exactly what you're saying about her toes and breakover. Even if I can't get Lilly working barefoot and we end up putting shoes back on, I'll be anxious to see how much better she moves when we get her heels back where they need to be and shorten those toes. She'll actually be able to WALK correctly, so I imagine she will move a lot differently under saddle!

    Shoes definitely have their place on certain horses in certain situations, especially if boots just aren't feasible. I won't know if Lilly can go barefoot if we don't give it a try!