Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hot Oil Treatment for the Equine Tail

Is a hot oil treatment for your horse's tail necessary? Certainly not.
Is giving your equine buddy a hot oil treatment somewhat silly and overkill? Probably.
Are you nuts for your horse? Likely yes.
Why, keep on reading then!

A Hot Oil Treatment for the Equine Tail: A Tutorial
I recommend having very specific goals in mind for your horse when contemplating a hot oil treatment. This treatment is certainly messy and can produce an overly greasy tail that is hard to work with if excess oil is used. Basically, do not try this the night before a show, hunt, parade, insert event, for which you plan on gloriously braiding your horses tail.

My horse, Luke (aka Sweet G), has somewhat of a kinky, dry and thin tail (see Figure A and B). My goal with this treatment is to both A) nourish and condition Sweet G's tail and to B) relax the hair, creating the illusion of straightness. I presume that the treatment relaxes the hair because some of the oil stays in the tail, weighing down the shaft and creating a temporarily more straight hair.
Fig A: Dry, kinky tail
Fig B: Before treatment

Here is what you need for this procedure:
-Horse with tail
-Tail brush (optional)
-Olive oil or other nourishing oil of choice
-A variety of hair clips: duckbill, wave clips, regular clips
-Extremely cheap shower caps
-Spray bottle

Tally Ho!

Step 1: Pick the hay, weeds, shavings, peppermint candies and other whatnot out of your horses tail. If you are willing to comb your horses tail, now would be a good time to do so. I do. I can't resist.

Step 2: You will now divide your horse's tail into sections. I divide the shorter hairs on top from the longer hairs coming off mid-dock. The above photo is an example of the sections that I divide the upper dock into with a variety of different clips that I use to get the hair to stay in place.

Step 3: When you are ready to begin spraying the horses tail, warm your oil and water up. I generally use a 1 cup:3 cups or 1 cup:4 cups ratio of oil to water. (Please do not use a 50/50 mixture. I promise this is too much oil.) You should have MUCH LESS oil than water. I put the two liquids in the microwave and heat them for about one minute and then pour them into a spray bottle.
Step 4: Spray a section of the upper dock hairs and then roll into a bun and clip. Spray the next section with oil until saturated, roll into a bun and then clip. The photo above shows how they will sit when rolled and clipped down.

Step 5: Cover the upper dock buns/rolls with a shower cap.

Step 6: Now, we will divide up the lower, long tail into sections that are held in clips. Please see the photo below.

Lower tail in gathered sections
 Step 7: Spray a section of lateral/side hair until saturated, roll into a bun, and clip in place. Spray the other lateral/side section, roll into a bun, and clip in place.

Step 8: Spray down the final, middle section of tail hair into a pretty and tidy bun. Clip in place, and then cover the lower three buns in a shower cap.

Please note that this is a dry example of the lower tail roll.

Step 9: See how long your horse can hang out with his tail all wound up like this as you contemplate the deep question of what would happen if he poos during this part. Sweet G can make it about 7-20 minutes. You can test your horse's patience during this step by doing silly things like trying to put a shower cap on his head while you wait.

Step 10: Wash his tail with shampoo. I do not condition his tail after this shampoo. You may actually need to wash twice, or wash again the next time you see your friend.

And voila!
After treatment


I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial for how to give your equine buddy an unrequested hot oil treatment.

Los Altos Hounds beginning a hunt at Van Vleck Ranch


  1. This was thoroughly entertaining . . . and informative. Thank you!
    The results speak for themselves - that beautiful smooth tail.
    (Don't show Luke the "in progress" shots.)

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting! I surely will not show Luke the in process shots. He would be terrifically embarassed and irritated with me for divulging his beauty secrets.