White tails just won’t stay white — they seem to prefer yellow. Even light gray tails can get yellow stains. Urine isn’t always the cause. Just like the body of a horse, the tail gets dirty because of the environment in which we keep our horses. But fear not. You can get those tails sparkly white again, utilizing products you may already have in your home.
While we like Quic Silver (our top choice in color-enhancing shampoos for white coats — see January 2000) for everyday maintenance, when the stains are severe extra steps might need to be taken to return the hair to its bright, light color. We found a neat combination that helped a palomino filly with severe yellow tail stains. Her tail had been let go during the cold winter months, and a tail bag wouldn’t work for her. You’ll need:
• Gentle human-hair shampoo.
• White vinegar.
• Quic Silver equine shampoo.
• Liquid laundry bluing.
• Human hair conditioner.
Step One. Wash the tail thoroughly with the human shampoo to remove dirt. Rinse it thoroughly.
Step Two. Pour white vinegar right from the bottle onto the tail below the dock, where all the staining is evident. Saturate the yellow hair and let the vinegar sit in the tail for 10 minutes. We suggest you place a fly mask on the horse, so no vinegar will get in her eyes if she swishes her tail.
Step Three. Wash the vinegar completely out of the tail. Hose down the horse’s rump and back legs, too.
Step Four. Apply Quic Silver shampoo full strength to the entire tail and work in well. Leave in 10 minutes, then rinse the tail thoroughly.
Step Five. This last step is only necessary if the tail is still stained. Put a capful of liquid bluing in a half-cup of gentle human shampoo and work that into the tail. Leave this on for no more than five minutes. Rinse out the tail and nearby areas thoroughly with cold water.
Step Six. Apply conditioner for five minutes and rinse out.
For maintenance, we like using Quic Silver once a week. The above steps were only necessary when the tail was so severely stained that it needed some extra “punch.” With horses like our palomino filly, regular tail washing is a must to prevent yellow stains from setting.
Note: Always rinse thoroughly with clear water between steps and at the end of the process. With horses who may have sensitive skin, we would spot test each product, waiting 24 hours before using it, to see if there’s any reaction.