horse tail without hair

Is A Horse Tail Without Hair Natural?

A horse with a sleek coat, flowing mane, and graceful tail looks magnificent. But what if you came across a horse without a tail?

Imagine you are watching a horse galloping in the distance. Its silhouette against the evening sky with a bouncing, flowing mane – it looks beautiful. And then he turns, and you can see his profile. But wait. Something is amiss. There is only bare skin covering what should be the horse’s tail.

You may wonder why that tail is hairless. Is it natural, or does it apply to only a particular breed? What purpose do the hairs have? Let’s explore these questions a little deeper.

Why Does A Horse’s Tail Have Hair?

A horse’s tail isn’t just gloriously flowing locks; it plays a vital role too.

  • Thermoregulation: Horses fan themselves with their tail hair to help them cool, especially in areas where the temperatures soar. This sends cooler air around the body, which regulates body temperature.
  • Pest control: A tail is also good for swatting flies and pesky bugs, which can cause irritation or even painful bites.
  • Dustbuster: In areas where there is a lot of dust, horses use their tails to keep dust out of their eyes.

Other Equidae, such as donkeys, zebras, and some ponies, naturally have little to no hair on their entire tails, especially towards the tips. This could be because of the climates and environments from which they originate. Harsh deserts or drier conditions may have something to do with the sparsity of hair on their tails.

Reasons Why The Horse Tail Hair May Be Missing

There are instances where a horse is born with a hairless tail. There are also practical reasons why the hair is removed, for example, in carriage horses. In some cultures, they choose to remove the tail hairs because it’s believed to look more graceful.

A horse’s tail and tail hairs are important parts, both functionally and aesthetically. Most times, a horse has long, thick tail hairs, which add to the overall magnificence of the horse’s tail. But what if your horse’s tail hair is slowly disappearing? Is your horse suffering from hair loss? And if so, what is the cause behind this happening? Let’s explore all these instances.


From time to time, you will come across a horse breed that is born with little or no hair on their tails. This type of animal is rare. Some of the better-known breeds where this sometimes occurs are the Falabella horses and Highland ponies.

In many cases, it’s believed that horses have adapted to their environments. In extreme climates, hairy tails could collect ice and snow, causing severe discomfort or injury. In desert-like areas, a hairless tail can help with thermoregulation, which can help regulate the horse’s temperature.

Here are four more lesser-known breeds where this occurs:


  • Origins: Turkmenistan in Central Asia
  • Climate: Harsh desert
  • Tails: Thin hair or hairless


  • Origins: China
  • Climate: Mountainous habitat, with snow and ice in the colder months
  • Tails: Little to no hair

Mangalarga Marchador

  • Origins: Brazil
  • Climate: Tropical and equatorial, where there is a lot of rain and heat
  • Tails: Hairless


  • Origins: Hungary
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Tails: Thin hair or hairless

Cultural choices

In times when carriages dominated the beaten track, docking was highly popular. Docking horses is a practice in which the horse’s tail hairs are removed.

The dock of the horse is found at the base of the tail. It is the part that connects to the buttocks. The muscles in the dock area allow horses to raise, lower, or swish their tails. There is short hair on the dock, which is often coarse. The short hairs help protect the sensitive skin on the underside of the dock. The rest of the tail has long hairs (which help with swatting flies).

There are still discussions, however, on how to balance the practice of docking. While it has a cultural history, the horse’s welfare is most important. It’s important to note that in some areas, docking has been banned. This is because incorrect docking can damage the entire tail. However, there are various reasons why docking was adopted, which we will briefly explore.

Europe and North America

  • Carriage horses: You can imagine that a horse’s tail hair can get in the way of a harness when it is pulling a carriage. Many Europeans and North Americans opted to remove the tail hairs because of the safety aspect as well as because they looked neater.
  • Military horses: Military horse tail hair was removed because of the dangers the hair posed to both the horse and its rider while the horse was doing various manoeuvres.

South America

In South America, horses were generally used for farm work and cattle herding. The horse-tail hair was removed so that it didn’t get entangled. For aesthetic purposes, Gauchos (skilled horsemen) docked their horses to display their horsemanship.


In Mongolia, docking was practised for hygiene purposes. Mongolia is known for its harsh climates, so docking was also used for injury prevention.

Japan adopted the practice from its neighbours. They would then remove the tail hairs on Sumo horses, which was done to portray the horse’s strength and power.

Health Reasons

Full-length horse hair takes about two years to grow. When grooming and brushing the animal, you will notice some hairs that come out. This is natural. However, when there is an excessive amount of hairfall, there may be a health concern.

  • Stress or trauma: If your horse has been burned or bitten, it could result in damage to the hair follicles, which results in hair loss. Stress is also a huge contributor to hair loss because it affects the immune system.
  • Insect bites: Insect bites can irritate the skin covering the tail, which can cause the hair follicles to weaken and the tail hair to fall out. Mites and lice can cause hair loss in patches. It often starts on the tail and spreads further across the body. The itch can also cause the horse to rub the affected area as it seeks relief from the irritation.
  • Internal parasites: parasites such as pinworms can cause itchiness in the area of the tail. If the horse starts rubbing or scratching this area, it could result in hair loss.
  • Allergies: Your horse could have an allergic reaction to something, including insect bites, food, or chemicals, causing hair loss.
  • Skin diseases: Skin diseases like dermatophilosis or ringworm can cause itchy patches and hair loss.
  • Hormones: Hormonal imbalances and thyroid problems can also cause hair loss in a horse’s mane and tail.


What the horse consumes can affect the health of their mane and tail hair. If a horse is suffering from a nutritional deficiency, this can cause hair loss. Vitamins like biotin (vitamin B7) and zinc are crucial in preventing hair fallout.

When To See A Vet

When the tail hairs are broken at the base of the tail. This is often the symptom of a bigger problem. It can occur because the horse has been rubbing its tail against a wall or hard surface. Horses rub this area because their skin is irritated or itchy because of insects. Rubbing this area provides a bit of relief from the itching.

If you notice that your horse is suffering from alopecia, it’s imperative to speak to a vet as soon as possible. The vet will examine your equine friend and advise on the correct treatments to alleviate any pain, discomfort, or suffering.

A Tale About Horse Tails

Horsetails are often put through intense grooming to ensure they stand up or out. In the past, ginger was used to make the horse’s tail stand high. This raised-tail carriage is sometimes seen as an attractive feature for horses. Some horse owners use a technique called gingering to get the horse to raise its tail. This involves rubbing ginger on the horse’s perennial region.

Braiding the long hairs of the tail is also popular during competitions, as it looks smart on the horse. It can be a decorative feature. Sometimes the braids happen over the dock; other times the hairs can be plaited from the dock down the length of the tail to the tip. The hairs between the dock and the tip are sometimes referred to as the skirt.

Braiding of the mane or tail should not be left for longer than 12 hours. If left for too long, it could cause discomfort, and the horse could start rubbing its rear end against a hard surface to relieve the irritation. Employ the services of a professional braider or groomer to assist with braiding.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons for hairfall, but it may be a symptom of something bigger. If in doubt, don’t guess. Rather, speak to a vet if your horse is losing hair at an abnormal rate. If you want to or need to dock your horse, do so under the advice of a vet or call in a professional who is familiar with this type of grooming.

Understanding the reasons behind the hair loss is important. If it’s a natural and inherited gene, then you have nothing to worry about. Rather, take the time to call in a vet if you are worried. With corrective nutrition and proper care, your equine friend can be well on its way back to good health.


Does a hairless tail need different care?

Treat and protect the tail with extra care. Add sun cream and fly repellent if required. Protect any exposed skin from extreme sunlight or bad weather.

Can a hairless tail regrow the hair?

It depends on the cause of the hair loss, the breed, genetics, and nutrition. In some cases, the hair loss can be reversed, but to get to full length, it would take up to two years to regrow.

Similar Posts