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One of my students recently learned an interested fact about young horses that I thought I would share. When her horse first arrived in training, he was very green and weak and would carry his tail pinched to his hindquarters, as if a push pin held it there.

As he got stronger in his back, he began to carry his tail higher. The back muscles need time to get strong before they can lift the dock of the tail away from the hindquarters. As the horse learns to relax and “swing” in the back, the tail will be carried higher.
In the trot, the tail should swing back and forth at the bottom like a pendulum. When the horse is tight in the back or weak, as this young horse was, the tail stays “stuck” on and doesn’t swing much.

A tail that swishes constantly is a sign of tension. And a horse who carries the tail to one side or another has either a serious asymmetry in strength from side to side or even a sign of a more serious physical problem that should be addressed with the vet.
Watch your horse’s tail as he goes and see the difference as the training progresses!


Illustration by Susan DiFelice