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Tail chewing is a vice that is generally associated with foals, but may occasionally occur with older horses as well. If you notice that your foals' tail is beginning to look shorter and ragged looking, you can probably trace it to a chewer.
Raising a foal can be, and hopefully will be, a pleasant experience. However, caring for a foal may become a frustrating experience, especially if you have a tail chewer in your herd.
The guilty one may be the only one with a normal looking tail. If possible, remove the little rascal from the other foal, or foals, before he causes additional damage to the tails of his friends. This, of course, means that your little culprit will not have the company of the other babies during his period of isolation. Hopefully, he will soon forget about this vice and can rejoin his buddies.
There are several theories regarding the cause of tail chewing, including the lack of essential minerals. However, it is generally felt that if you are feeding a foal a commercially prepared ration it should contain the proper mineral balance. Another cause is boredom. Kid stuff, like playfully tugging on each other's halters, or grabbing onto one or another's mane or tail can be an additional cause.
Here at Mares' Nest we find that, if we have a short period of fog, it may lead to tail chewing with our foals. Also, the eruption of new teeth in the young horse can cause the problem
Additionally, tail chewing can lead to a digestive problem if the hair is ingested. Also, if you plan to show the young horse, or prepare him for a sale, you certainly do not want a short, ragged tail. To prevent this from happening, your choices are either the isolation of the "chewer" or the application of something distasteful to the tails of the foals that are the target of the chewer. Hopefully, this will discourage the vice.
Horse shampoos and conditioners are generally non-toxic and, although they smell great, they taste terrible. The bad taste will usually discourage the chewer from doing further damage to his buddy's tails.
There are also commercial products available that are sprayed on the tails and are intended to discourage chewing. These can usually be found in your local feed store. Basically, you need to find something so distasteful that the "chewer" will find some other less destructive activity. Be certain that whatever you use will not harm your horse.
Some breeders find that a glob of petroleum jelly, mixed with a small amount of cayenne pepper, and applied to the tail, will discourage the chewer. It is best for you to wear a protective rubber glove when using this method. Whatever method you select will have to be continued until the habit is broken.
You are invited to visit the home page for Foal To Yearling Halters here.