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How to Stop a Tail Chewer

Do you have a tail chewer in your herd? Here are two potions for putting a halt to the tail chewer's habit.

Photo by Darrell Dodds
The tale of a short tail can have a happy ending--and a chance to grow as long and lovely as this tail--if you can discourage the chewer with a distasteful potion.
Photo by Darrell Dodds

In the October 2005 issue of Horse & Rider magazine, we talked about getting to the root causes of tail rubbing. But what if the tail problem in your pasture isn't a matter of rubbing--but is instead caused by a horse that chews tails? (And it's pretty easy to tell who the culprit is--he's the one with the long, lovely tail.)

The best way to stop a chewer is to separate him from the rest of the herd for at least a month. That should be enough time to break his habit. But if you can't isolate the offender, you can thwart him with a distasteful potion. Here are two I recommend.

Method One
Supplies You'll Need:
Rubber or latex gloves (thin pharmaceutical gloves give you more dexterity than kitchen gloves); ground cayenne pepper and petroleum jelly.

Procedure: For this method, you'll apply a mixture of hot pepper and petroleum jelly onto the chewed tail hairs. The pepper creates an unpleasant burning sensation in the chewer's mouth, discouraging repeat taste. The petroleum jelly acts like "glue" to hold the pepper onto the hairs. To apply: Don gloves. Scoop out about 2 ounces of petroleum jelly, and hold it in the palm of one hand. With the other hand, shake a small amount of pepper into the jelly (about two or three good shakes). With your gloved fingers, thoroughly mix the pepper with the petroleum jelly, then apply the mixture to the bottom portion of the chewed tail. (Caveat: Apply this mixture to the chewed hairs only--avoid contact with the skin as it will create a burning sensation.)

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Method Two
Supplies You'll Need:
Your favorite concentrated mane and tail conditioner (I use Cowboy Magic Demineralizer Conditioner Rosewater Herbal Blend.)

Procedure: For this method, simply coat the chewed tail's lower half with a liberal amount of concentrated mane and tail conditioner, used full strength. It's gummy, gooey and nasty-tasting, yet non-toxic so it safely discourages chewing. (A bonus: When you finally rinse out the conditioner, your horse's tail will be soft and silky.)

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