When purchasing a tail extension, look at your horse’s inner tail hair color, and outer tail hair color. The inner tail color is important, because that is where the extension will be worn, and the tail extension should blend with the inner tail hair. The outer tail hair color is also important, because that’s the tail hair that will be blending with the tail extension, and those colors need to match as well. If your horse’s inner and outer tail hair colors contrast sharply (and some do), you will want the tail extension to match your horse’s outer tail hair, which will veil down around the tail extension. To make visualization easier, and to take some of the guesswork out of color matching – step back from your horse about ten feet or so – the tail color you see is the tail color to match. Some horses carry two or more distinct colors in their tail – especially paint horses. In these cases, a bi-color or tri-color tail extension would be the best match.
Determine the length you need by measuring from where you plan on braiding in the tail extension down to however long you want the tail to be, usually to the fetlock or pastern area for a mature horse. Depending on the type of attachment used, a tail extension can be braided in anywhere from the bottom of the tail bone up to one to three inches up the tail bone.
Weight is a matter of personal preference However, a little less is better than too much. You want the tail to be a complement to the horse, not overpower it. Choosing a blunt or tapered end is also a matter of choice. Most yearlings will use a ½ pound tapered tail extension. This looks natural with the tail they have, and is appropriate to their age. Halter horses will usually wear a ½ or ¾ pound tapered end tail extension. The ½ pound and ¾ pound tail extensions can also be appropriate for the two year old futurity horses, and are usually finished with a blunt end. Bigger framed horses can carry a bigger tail extension than a smaller, more fine boned horse. Again, you need to keep in mind the big picture. Most mature show horses will wear a ¾ pound to one pound tail extension, and they are usually blunt on the end.
Tail extensions with braided horse hair ties and braided horse hair loops are meant to be braided up snug against the tail bone anywhere from the end of the tail bone on up one to three inches. The tube end attachment braids in at the very bottom of the tail bone. The braided ties and braided loops are more versatile, since they can be braided in up or down the tail bone, lengthening or shortening the tail extension as needed. This makes is possible to use the tail extension on different horses, or shorten the tail extension when showing in a deep or muddy arena, maneuvering through elevated trail obstacles, etc. The tube attachment is probably the easiest to attach, but the only place it can be braided in is at the bottom of the tail bone, so you don’t have the option of lengthening or shortening the tail extension. However, if you are a one person horse, or braiding is a challenge, the tube end attachment may be right for you. See the Braiding Instructions and Tail Care page for instructions on how to attach tail extensions.
If you’re not sure what tail hair color to order, or your horse’s tail hair color doesn’t seem to match any of the in-stock colors, we can help. A sample of your horse’s tail hair, 12 to 15 tail hairs, will allow us to match a hair color to your horse’s tail. Up-close photos of your horse’s tail, taken from each side and from the back, will also help us match your horse’s tail hair color, and are helpful in discerning any definite color patterns within the tail hair.
Rendered tails are horse tails still on the hide. They come in varying colors, lengths and weights. Rendered tails can work well for horses that have lost most of their tail hair due to tail damage or whose tails have been severely chewed. Rendered tails are shaped to form around the horse’s tail bone, covering up and taking the place of the existing tail. Rendered tails can also work well as a tail extension – another way to add fullness and length to your horse’s own tail. Rendered tails are braided in high on the tail bone. They are more time consuming to put in, and it is a two person job to braid in a rendered tail – patience and practice help! However, when there is not enough tail hair to attach a regular tail extension, a rendered tail may be the answer. See the Braiding Instructions and Tail Care page for further information on attaching a rendered tail.
You have a couple of options. The tube end attachment tail extension can work well for horses with thin, fine tail hair, such as Appaloosas and P.O.A’s. If your horse has enough hair at the bottom of the tail bone to make a braid, with tail hair left to veil over the tail extension, this type of tail extension may be the answer. Yarn can be added to the braid to increase the thickness of the braid without using as much tail hair. Since the tube end tail extension braids in at the very bottom of the tail bone, you are adding the length and fullness from the inside out – your horse’s existing tail hair veils over the tail extension. Usually, horses with thin, fine hair will take a ½ pound or less tube end tail extension, rather than the fuller, heavier tail extensions. If your horse has had tail damage, lost part of the tail bone, or has a severely chewed tail, you made need to go with a rendered tail. Rendered tails do a nice job of taking the place of the tail hair that used to be there. In some cases, both with the tube end attachment tail extension and the rendered tail, small tail plugs are braided in to fill in where the extension/rendered tail and the horse’s own tail hair meet, to help blend all the tail hair.
Tail extensions and rendered tails are meant to be used for show. They should be braided in prior to showing, and taken out after you are done for the day. Leaving a tail extension in overnight is discouraged, since the tail extension can get caught on a water bucket or latch, etc., or stepped on when the horse pushes up with his hind legs to get up after lying down. Either circumstance could damage not only the tail extension, but your horse’s own tail. Leaving a tail extension in overnight may cause the braids to loosen, allowing the tail extension to sag – not a pretty picture in the show pen! If you have a horse that is lacking enough tail to comfortably swish flies, we suggest using a light weight tail sock with a fly switch sewn on to the end, and/or a scrim sheet. Both will make the fly season much more tolerable.
Take care of your tail extension the same as you take care of your horse’s tail. Custom Tail extensions are 100% horsehair to comply with Breed Association rules, and taking care of your tail extension properly will increase it’s life span. After each use, wash your tail extension with a mild shampoo, rinse well and towel or air dry. Sparingly apply a detangler to make brush outs easier, and to prevent tangles. Condition your tail extension with a quality hair conditioner after every 6-8 shampoos. Rinse well, dry and follow up with an application of detangler. When not in use, your tail extension should be stored in a tail bag slightly longer than the tail to prevent the ends from curling. See the Braiding Instructions and Tail Care page for additional information.
The secret to a great looking tail is a good color match, correct application of the tail extension, and clean hair! When you braid in your tail extension, make sure the top of the extension is snug up against the tail bone – this prevents the tail extension from hanging loose, and swinging free on it’s own, separating from your horse’s own tail hair. Prior to braiding in your tail extension, make sure your horse’s tail and the tail extension are clean and free of tangles. Clean hair blends and flows much better than dirty hair! Be sure the tail extension is hung at the correct length – allowing a tail extension to hang lower than the fetlocks can cause the tail extension to get stepped on, possibly damaging both the tail extension, and your horse’s tail!
There are a number of reasons this can happen. If your horse is narrow between the hocks, you may have too much tail hair for the space between his legs. The tail hair gets pulled between the hocks due to the momentum of the horse’s stride, but once it’s caught between the legs, there’s not enough room for the tail hair to flow back out. Going to a lighter weight tail extension may remedy this problem. Dirty tail hair and a dirty tail extension will get caught between the hind legs easier than clean, flowing tail hair. Be sure both your horse’s tail and the tail extension are clean and free of tangles. Sometimes static electricity is the culprit. If the tail hairs are full of static, spray Static Guard on the tail and tail extension, and on the insides of your horse’s hocks prior to entering the show pen. A silicone based product, such as ShowSheen, sprayed on the inside of your horse’s legs may also help prevent your horse’s tail from getting caught between his legs. Also, be sure that your horse’s chestnuts are smooth – rough skin can catch the hair as it passes by.