Traditionally tails were “pulled” by hand to thin out the thickness at the top and shape the sides of the tail to give definition and improve the shape of the hindquarters as well as provide a pleasing picture when the horse is ridden and “carries” the tail.
By pulling and thinning the tail in the traditional manner, meant taking several days to do it so that the horse did not get sore, or if done quickly, left the horse very sore, uncomfortable, and often very agitated. So I like to use a Smart Tails in the necessary grade as I can tidy the most unruly tails without causing any discomfort. My other tool is the Pro Thinning Knife, which has a nice wide blade making it easy and safe to use.
Start with raking the sides of the tail, working both sides as you move down the tail. If you complete one side first, you’ find it harder to match the other to it.
Stand back every now and again so you can see how far down you have gone. As a general guide, I normally pull down to where the buttocks start to angle out to the sides.
I then use the Pro Thinning Knife to make quick, short strokes down the tail to leave an even thickness of short hairs.
Lastly, dampening the hair and leaving a tail bandage on for a short time each day helps to flatten the hair.
Tail length depends on the type of horse of pony, and where appropriate, on breed society regulations (NOTE - Please check breed rulings). For cobs, hunters, hacks and riding horses I like a tail to finish about 4 inches below the point of the hocks when the horse is on the move. This means you need to see your horse being trotted in hand to see his natural tail-carriage.
I never use clippers to shape the top of the tail. It always looks awful and, as the technique I use doesn’t cause any stress, you can also use it on youngstock being shown in hand.