The tail is one of those things that most horse owners really want to preserve. One way to do that is to make sure it's clean, tangle free, and well maintained. Every tail, no matter the horse, will need a good shampoo at some point. You have options in the shampoo department - go for a Hi Shine Shampoo to thoroughly clean and add shine, or play up your horse's natural hair color with EquiTone Shampoo. The frequency of horse bath days depends on your horse, his house (inside or outside), and his general environment. Sometimes, I find the need to wash only the tail and not do a full bath. This is great for winter time spa days - you can brighten the tail without doing a full bath.
When it's tail washing time, it's easy to gather a few tools and get going. Use a smidge of shampoo dissolved in warm water in a bucket. This is a great way to just dunk the tail up to the tail bone in bubbly water and then massage everything in. Then you can use a sponge to add some of your Hi Shine foamy mixture to the upper part of the tail. Another choice would be to wet the tail, top to bottom, and then use shampoo in your hands to massage in. Working top to bottom lets the shampoo really do it's job well and easily.
Either way, it's very important to spend a lot of time working your shampoo of choice gently into the tail. At the tail bone, you also need to spend your time working it into the base of the hairs and the skin. While you are there, do another inspection of the tail bone looking for bumps, lumps, scrapes, tumors, bugs and anything new that has popped up.
The tail bone is also the area that you devote your time to rinsing, and rinsing really well. Suds left here can irritate the sensitive skin and cause rubbing and tail damage. Start at the top and rinse down.
If you choose to use a conditioner, be sure the tail is free of shampoo residue. Natural Elegance Conditioner is light, easy rinsing, and smells nice. The reason to use a conditioner is to strengthen the hair, provide future stain protection (yeah!!) and make everything soft and easy to maintain. Use a tiny amount on the tail bone because of the rinse factor - sometimes conditioner just wants to hang on a little bit longer! Use more conditioner on the ends to create soft volume and to make detangling easier.
After it's all said and done, I like to dry the tail using the "helicopter" method for a few whirls to remove some of the water. I grab the tail below the tail bone and spin it around. You can also use a towel or two to dry the tail.
A lot of us are concerned with losing tail hairs - and just like our own hair, it does come out naturally, and no amount of product or tail bag or pampering will prevent it. So don't panic if your brush has some hairs in it! When the tail is damp, you can apply a light spray of Magic Sheen to make combing or brushing tangle free.
Also keep in mind that a ton of product left in the tail can sometimes create "dirt glue" on the tail.
For those of you that use tail bags, be sure to apply them well below the tail bone. Most styles of tail bag are easily secured when your horse's tail is in a braid. Using a tail bag is also a great way to do a deep conditioning treatment - you can use Natural Elegance Conditioner overnight and rinse the next day.