Tail Rules

Hello everyone!

I have a quick question regarding what the AMHA rules are for Tails in the Saddleseat division.

Is “Tail Nicking” legal, and if so, is it practiced or has anyone ever seen it? The reason I am asking is because I stumbled across a blog where the author is saying that she worked at a well known Morgan barn in Michigan(I know which one she is referring to), yet she is claiming that the Morgans in this barn all had tail sets (like the ASB’s who have nicked tails). I really want to correct her on this, but not unless I know 100% that this is not allowed in our breed. I don’t want false information spread about our breed to masses of people, especially if it is incorrect and malicious¬†:).

 

THANKS!!

39 Responses to Tail Rules

  1. colwilrin says:

    Tail cutting is illegal in the breed. In New York State, it is illegal to perform on any horse.

    Many show morgans do wear bustles (for those who are not familiar with them, they look like very fat cruppers) to help give the tail a little lift. It is different than the Saddlebred “spoon” which also creates the traditional “breakover.” Horses that wear a bustle can do so without the tail being cut. To wear a “spoon” the tail needs to be cut at the base, and at the breakover point.

  2. jns767 says:

    Thanks colwilrin!

    I have yet to see a bustle on a Morgan, even at the shows – maybe I’m not paying enough attention though. If you don’t mind, I’m going to paste your comment into my response on this particular blog (leaving your name out of course). This person has left the impression on this popular blog that Morgans allow nicking – not something I want impressionable people of other breeds believing. Since we want to promote our breed in a positive light, I think that it’s important to squash misconceptions. :)

  3. colwilrin says:

    No problem. I honestly doesn’t make much sense for a Morgan person to use a tail “spoon”…it would create an obvious bend in the tail at the breakover point that is not desirable to our breed, and would be an obvious marker that the tail had been cut.

    She probably just mistook the bustle for a spoon as the leather pieces of the sets are identical, except for the piece under the base of the tail. It’s an honest mistake.

  4. StacyGRS says:

    Actually, you can work with a tail and get a horse to wear a spoon very well without cutting a tail…especially the ones that are made for smaller horses. They have less of a dramatic breakover and aren’t as tall, but a horse that has a bad tail can wear one of these with no surgury at all and do fine in it, but you do have to be willing to put the work into getting it stretched and loose first and watch it carefully.
    Stacy
    ps..if you’ve missed bustles at shows you just weren’t looking for them…there are tons of them:):)

  5. jns767 says:

    You’re right – perhaps I’m caught up in my own little world :). I don’t right Saddleseat, so it’s not something I know really anything about. I am however concerned though – do people still nick tails in the Morgan world, regardless of the rule? I’m not going to go into some kind of rant and rave, but I always felt proud of the Morgan show world, thinking that this sort of thing didn’t occur…I know that gingering does, which is – - – eh….but, tail nicking is a whole ‘nother thing in my book – disfigurement should never occur, especially for the sake of a showring fad.

  6. colwilrin says:

    Stacy,

    Am I correct in assuming that you would just let it lay in the spoon and wouldn’t try to wrap the lower part down against the underside of the spoon…or can the tail do that without the breakover being cut? I’ve never tried to use a spoon without the tail done…this is interesting. Would you want to buy the shallower spoon and work up from a bustle into it? I’m just trying to picture what you do with the breakover part. The part on a SB that would be legwrapped back against the base with the net secured over.

  7. jns767 says:

    I don’t RIDE – not right – ha! Sorry.

  8. StacyGRS says:

    Well, it sort of depends on what you are trying to acheive. If you want a sharp breakover (which we don’t) you could work with it and get it that flexible. You’d start with it just laying in the spoon and then start to use a net to apply SUPER light pressure to bend…You’d find that over time (weeks) it would take tightening the net to provide the same pressure as the tail forms to the spoon. When I worked at a Saddlebred farm, this was how we put sets on anyway…we didn’t wrap the lower part of the tail to the spoon…we wrapped the part that sat IN the spoon down to the spoon to leep it from moving and then used the net to form the breakover. We did wrap the lower part of the tail to the upper part when using a brace, but that’s entirely different. The cut in the tail is not low…that is not what forms the breakover, it is high up and forms the sharp rise to the tail from the base. Does that make sense?
    Stacy

  9. I have been in a barn where they did cut the tail and set it. It was several years ago and I am sure they don’t do it anymore. Bustles are very commonly used in the barns and at the shows so I am sure that is what they saw. But I have been at a barn when the vet came and did watch as they did the procedure. It happens.

  10. colwilrin says:

    Yep, that makes sense. Thanks. So to keep from getting the breakover, you just leave the net off? I imagine that the wrap would keep the base in the spoon fine, but without the net do they have problems with hair breakage?

  11. StacyGRS says:

    No problem with hair breakage as long as you keep the hair moisturized…the net is really for the sake of the breakover (acheiving it and keeping it straight), not for hair protection.You’ll still get somewhat of a breakover without the net…after all, what goes up must come down:) The natural weight of the tail will cause an “arch” which is more desirable in our world anyway.
    Stacy

  12. colwilrin says:

    To keep them from rubbing, do you use the board “shelf” sticking out around the stall. That is one that I never quite understood. I always thought it would give the horse a great place to rub the tail on. Do the heavy guage wire guards that attach to the set work?

    Also, tail bag or no? Some people think they actually cause more harm if the horse wants to rub.

  13. StacyGRS says:

    We don’t use tail boards…I love them, but we don’t have them. Mostly, they’re handy to use when grooming your horse and also tend to keep horses from getting cast. They do have to be the right height for the breed…at the proper height they can rub under their tail a few inches…sort of the point of the rump, but they really have to duck their butts down to rub their tails.
    A tail bag just keeps the dirt and dust off and bedding out of the tail…they are pretty optional, but they look nice on when they match the sheet, etc:)
    Stacy

  14. StacyGRS says:

    we tried the heavy wire thing for a mare that rubbed with a bustle…can’t say that it worked for us…it was this giant contraption that was always tweaked. We haven’t tried one again in 5-6 yrs.
    Stacy

  15. Flmorgan says:

    We have had and still have a few Morgans that the tails were nicked. I don’t know where it happened but one was a bad job and the tail was crooked. We wouldn’t do it.

  16. colwilrin says:

    Stacy,

    I wanted to thank you for answering my numerous questions with such open candor. Tail cutting and setting without cutting is a very sensitive issue and I appreciate your willingness to share your experiences.

    After many years of watching your horses show at OKC, and sharing discussions with you on various blogs, it is blatantly apparent to me that you are not only a wealth of information, but have a deep love of horses and that the animals in your charge receive the best care possible…even though you insist on clipping those wiskers ;)

  17. jns767 says:

    I want to say thanks too. I still have a lot to learn, and I feel very comfortable asking the people on this blog questions REGARDLESS of how strange/stupid/sensitive or out there they may be. I have never received a rude or snarky response and I truly appreciate that. :)

  18. nightmusicfarms says:

    Well, first off, I wanted to join in thanking Stacy for her candid, always informative and unfailingly courteous answers and willingness to share a trainer’s perspective. I also appreciate this great forum in not encouraging nor condoning rude exchanges or attacks on anyone.

    I am likely going to need that protection, however, with my following comments. :)

    I think that the entire issue of tail nicking and bustles is misunderstood and the perceived drawbacks greatly exaggerated. I have had numerous horses in training over the years with a whole host of trainers and the majority of them have had their tails nicked. (“Nicking” by the way, does not involve breaking the tail or cutting principal muscles which limit mobility. Nicking is the act of partially cutting lateral muscles on the underside of the tail. The horse absolutely does not lost the ability to use, swish, flag, raise or swat with their tail and if turned out, the typical observer would not be able to ascertain whether or not a Morgan had their tail nicked, assuming it was a good job.)

    The horses I have either purchased with nicked tails or had done have benefited enormously from the procedure, largely in their ability to learn to wear a crupper comfortably and in some cases, to enhance the appearance of the croup, rear quarter and tail flow.

    The real issue with nicking tails, in my opinion, is two fold. First and foremost, it requires a person, preferably a vet, who really, really knows what they are doing. The procedure requires precision, balance and great experience. Secondly, it takes a great and I mean a GREAT groom to keep the tail up for the first few weeks following the procedure. Clean, quick, optimal healing is essential and whomever is caring for the horse needs to be scrupulous in their sanitary maintenance and ensuring that the horse is clean, comfortable and well kept during recovery.

    Following recovery, the horse can wear a typical bustle, which in my experience, 99.9% of show Morgans wear. They do not wear a spoon and do not sport either a shaved tail or the breakover used in three gaited ASBs. The bustle is worn comfortably and without distress for the typical Morgan show horse and is not a deal, much less a big deal.

    I have seen horses do a completely turnaround in accepting a crupper once when the tail was done and learning to wear harness with far more comfort and flexibility than was present prior to the procedure. I want to emphasize that I never, ever seen a horse compromised in any way from being able to use their tail naturally and fully following a nicking procedure, unless it was done without sufficient knowledge and aftercare.

    This is one of those areas which, in my opinion, gets an emotionally charged bad rap with insufficient understanding of the process and the end result. I frankly believe that if it were easier, there were more skilled practioneers and the after care was insignificant, it would be an accepted and customary part of bringing the majority of young horses along.

    Should probably end this by saying that I respect and appreciate the objection many people have to it, but simply ask that they observe the after effects first hand prior to making a firm decision and not make that decision by observing a shaved tail or breakover in a walk trot or 3 gaited horse. In fact, if you are exposed to Morgan show horses on a fairly constant basis, chances are outstandingly high that you are watching and appreciating many horses with nicked tails.

    Susan

  19. StacyGRS says:

    Well, first, you are all welcome for any info I’ve provided. We don’t cut tails but Susan is very right, IMO…this is a topic that gets alot of emotional energy going and the facts get blown WAY out of proportion! I find blogs like this where people can actually get some info and facts to be refreshing and helpful to the breed and industry and if I can help that, I will. Thatnks Beth for running a much needed site where conversations can be had.
    Colwin..yes, I am a whisker trimmer:) Sorry. Does it make you feel any better that my outside horses don’t get trimmed? But those in a box stall whose feed goes in their feeder and water comes from the automatic waterer are not very likely, IMO, to need feelers and they seem to get along just fine. I like clean shaven men too:):) But I can live with your choice not to trim if you can live with mine to do so…
    Susan, yes, some do cut tails and many swear by it. The after care is more than reliant on a competant caretaker…it is relaint on vitual constant observation for the first 2 weeks. When I worked in Ky I happen to live in an apt attached to the barn. When tails got cut on horses I took care of I set my alarm for every 2 hours all night every night for 2 weeks. Personally, I’ve seen the ones that have gone bad and I hate the look. And I’ve seen the rubbed feathers on those in sets and hate that look too. It isn’t the actual procedure that bothers me near as much as those that are worse off for having had it done. This conversation was pointed out on a list and some articles were noted as referrences to the practice and the articles were, for the most part, as emotionally charged as could be…they completely changed facts and made this out to be something it is not, so, I just was trying to get facts out there.
    Stacy

  20. colwilrin says:

    Stacy,

    ROTFLMAO… My husband is not only clean shaven, but bald…I shave his head with my old set of Oster clippers (40 blade)….used to shave the forelocks off my pleasure saddlebreds too, and love a roached mane! But hey, some horses may need a little help from those curb feelers :) Mine tend to be able to find the carrots, even when stashed deep in my pockets, without the extra help!

  21. nightmusicfarms says:

    Stacy,

    The biggest problem I have seen with a tail not done well is the “wry” tail look, which can happen to any horse but more common in a nicked tail, obviously. I agree fully on the need for two week round the clock care and the barn was lucky to have you. Wasn’t youth wonderful? :)

    I also hate the look of rubbed out feathers and most of the time it is poor maintenance in a set, which is inexcusable. I am a fanatic on tails and keeping them clean, up, free of scale and hot spots, is a time consuming but hugely worthwhile effort. The rubbed out feathers on a set tail are a different issue than the actual nicking, of course, but could not agree more that it is an awful look and often times leads to discomfort in the horse, which is really unacceptable.

    It is funny how many issues become emotionally charged and a lot of times there is just an insufficient understanding of the matter or a lot of hearsay involved. It really is nice to be able to discuss such things here in an intelligent and objective fashion.

    I like clean shaven men and whisker free horses as well. In fact, if I had to go with one or another, I would likely put up with a hirsute guy before a hairy barn horse. :)

  22. jns767 says:

    Susan and Stacey,

    I can’t say that nicking and bustling my horse is something I would personally do, however, I do not judge nor think poorly of those who do. Especially with your description of the process and the actual effect nicking has on the horses. I have shown saddleseat once – classic – and won every class entered at that particular show. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing, I just sat up there with my hands too high and held on for the ride. It was exhilerating and so much fun! Anyway, back to my point. I try to take everything with an open minded point of view. Yes, when I posed the question I was quite against the whole “nicking” thing, but instead of ranting and raving, I knew I could come to this blog and would get a candid, honest and polite answer, regardless of whether I liked it or not. I have been riding and showing Morgans for 11 years, I never even cared to notice whether SS people nicked or not. Upon reading about the “abusiveness” of tail nicking on another site, I of course, made the assumption, as many do, that the horse could not move their tail and that it would remain paralized for the remainder of their lives. I feel very informed now, and of course, like an idiot, but I’m so glad that I made the choice to really learn about this procedure straight from the “horses mouth”, instead of jumping on some kind of uneducated band wagon. Thanks again.

  23. colwilrin says:

    Jns – They are fully able to move those cut tails…my saddlebred took great pleasure in whacking me in the head with his tail when I used to scrub his feet at bath time!

    I also knew of a mare who, as a two year old, was very tight in the back end. She had trouble trotting forward and was always clamping her tail and putting ears back. Her tail was eventually nicked, and the difference was amazing. Her whole back end freed up and she looked much more comfortable and happy moving forward. She ended up with a big free flowing trot, and also wore her ears after that. I really think that her natural build included tail structure that was uncomfortably tight which impinged her tail.

  24. nightmusicfarms says:

    Jns:

    Oh my gosh, this may be the most elegant, courteous and impressive post I have ever read on an equine list regarding an emotional topic. Thanks so much for sending it and for being such an open, fair, courteous writer.

    It is really a shame that more people don’t do exactly what you have done here, ask a fair question, weigh all of the input, make up your own mind and do it all without attacking or offending anyone. Well done.

    I think a lot of folks get confused on the set versus bustle issue and it is pretty rare to find a show barn that doesn’t have their horses in bustles. I would certainly keep mine in one and the principal reason is to keep the tail in a nice position, flexible and ready to accept a crupper. Never, ever have I seen a horse react negatively once they were accustomed to it and in fact, I think it helps a lot with preparing them for harness.

    Like Stacy, I once kept up a few ASB’s, although on a fraction of her scale and expertise. All of them wore sets and let me tell you, that was one time consuming endeavor. By the time I had collected the sets, diaper, baby powder etc. etc. and gotten the horse in it, I was a lot more pooped than the recipient. On the flip side, there is something very therapeutic about making sure these elaborate preparations are done well and the horse’s tail is kept beautifully. Like anything else done at night in a quiet barn, it is soothing to go through grooming rituals when it just you and a peaceful horse.

    I am personally not a fan of sets and don’t like to see them used. I don’t like the breakover look at all on a tail and I don’t like the obvious effects of mismanagement which Stacy mentioned. I also worry about a horse, particularly a youngster, getting tangled up in a set and I think it compromises their ability to fully relax and sleep. I don’t see the same issues in a bustle and it is graet that people learn the difference between the two.

    As for nicking, I guess I should clarify that I would personally support it when a horse would benefit from having a tail with more flexibility and it would enable him/her to wear a harness more comfortably. A horse with a tight or clamped tail can really get worked up learning to accept his equipment and a lot of it can be due to discomfort. As I said, I have never regretted having a horse with a nicked tail and I have been fortunate in that they were apparently done well prior to my owning them or an expert did them later. The biggest misconception is on tail use and it is nice to get the one cleared up. The horse has full and complete use of his tail and can happily use it for all of the horsey swishes, batting, flicking and raising he cares to attempt.

    Thanks again.

    Susan

  25. www.thewinningimage.ca says:

    I have to agree that having the tail done can make them more comfortable with the crupper. We had a Hackney harness pony who would tighten up on the crupper & then – EXPLODE. It was a safety issue for the human in the cart too but he was too little to ride:-) We also added an elastic insert to the crupper. He is now a very successful pony who has won everything first as a harness pony & then made the switch to road pony & his tail looks great no matter up or down. For most of the`year, he does not wear any set, just maybe to tune him up for shows. If his tail had not been done, he probably would not have enjoyed the successful career (and good home) he has now.

    Genevieve

  26. hilariethomas says:

    From the USEF Rules in the Morgan horse division

    MO102.4 Under Type and Conformation:
    4. Morgan horses shall exhibit natural tail carriage. See MO114.2.

    And MO114.2 Showing and Judging Regulations in Performance Classes
    2. Judges should penalize unnatural tail carriage, which includes evidence of tail-setting
    and/or vertical break-over, dead tail and wry tail (wry tail is defined as askew, deformed, distorted
    or twisted). Judges should severely penalize tails carried vertically with an abrupt
    break-over (double-vertical).

    So basically, no one should be at a horse show with a bustle or spoon/tail set on their horses. There are definitely trainers breaking these rules and these same judges/trainers are continuing the status quo and encouraging it by tieing these same horses w/obviously unnatural tail sets.

    I come from the morgan world, and to walk through the barns at NEMHS yesterday and see tail sets w/spoons on many of the BNTs is a disgrace. Either change the rules or enforce them, but don’t keep rewarding the obvious rule breakers.

    I have saddlebreds and morgans (so before you try to accuse me of being negatively against a set tail, please know I have horses with set tails and am not against them per se). What I am against is the flagrant violations and the failure of the judges and the USEF stewards from penalizing these entries.

  27. Vintage_Rider says:

    Hi Hilarie,
    I don’t believe you are interpreting the rules quite right. “tail setting” IMO is the cutting, breaking, nicking I believe. Bustles are routinely used to soften the clamped tail, and even to soften and assist in training the tail of a naturally “skewed” or even slightly off center tail carriage. Like I said, IMO, for what it is worth.

  28. hilariethomas says:

    Thank you Vintage Rider. While I realize there are those folks out there using bustles without cutting the tail, I believe an earlier post indicated that some are cutting the tail and using the bustle rather than the spoon set.

    When I was at NEMHS, a very BNT who is regularly tied first even when his riders are not the best, I walked the barns and saw at least 4-5 of his horses in tails sets w/spoons. Also, I know that using flexion and stretching the tail will achieve a similar result to tail-cutting, however, this is a time consuming proposition especially with that many horses in training w/sets on.

    My feeling is that unless the rules are changed, it should be penalized as stated in the rules. That said, it is difficult to penalize when the fox is guarding the henhouse in the guise of trainers who are also judging the same rule-breakers, when they practice the same techniques at home/show etc.

    I watched some of the hunt classes, classic pleasure etc. with the same tell-tale signs of poor tail cutting and aftercare that we see in the saddlehorse world. Crooked tails carried to the side due to poor tail care maintenance after bad cutting. These crooked tails did not get that way from stretching the tails of these horses. It was unsightly and unnecessary. The difference in the saddlehorse world is that at least in the performance classes horses’ tails are braced, so even a crooked tail looks ok.

  29. StacyGRS says:

    Just FYI, there most certainly are horses born with crooked tails. Every crooked or ‘wry’ tail you see is not the result of bad cutting, I assure you. Some would say they can be fixed by cutting them and properly getting them healed straight. Our rules say to leave them alone, but if one does that and then has everyone assume that they both broke the rules, and then did a bad job of caring for it, then that will not make following the rules very appealing, IMO.
    Stacy

  30. Vintage_Rider says:

    Good one Stacy… I have indeed seen them naturally wry, and according to the rules just quoted, they are pinned down for it… danged if you do, danged if you don’t. Just as an FYI, I have been in 3 professional barns, some big names as well, and none were ever nicked or “set/broken” what ever. But all used bustles. Even after reading the real facts on nicking, I would not consent to that for any of my horses. But I am also one of those in the minority that wouldn’t “fix” ears or dock tails on my dogs either.

  31. hilariethomas says:

    Ok, we can make as many excuses as necessary to not address the issue. Fact is I watched class after class with horses with crooked tails, wry tails, tails that were not naturally gotten that way. One or two in a single day, maybe. Not in the course of one afternoon.

    And it’s curious to me that these crooked tails/wry tails did not occur naturally when I was showing as a jr. exhibitor. It’s very interesting to know that apparently some incredibly bad breeding has occurred in the past 10 years or so to create this issue.

    One very major trainer in the East is absolutely cutting tails. It is obvious and everyone whispers about it, and then asks who did it. Please, it does exist, it shouldn’t exist OR the rules should be changed. Cudos to those who don’t believe they need it to win these days.

    and Stacy, I knew you back in the days when you rode w/Bridlevale. Anita definitely never cut tails.

  32. hilariethomas says:

    and vintage rider, you would never consent to it? do you know what it looks like after its been done. pretty unnoticeable unless you are looking for it as the nicks are very small and generally heal without scar tissue.

    I wonder how many owners are never told their horses’ tails have been cut or if they even know the difference? Unless you are a hands on owner, I doubt they would know.

  33. rodmanstables says:

    hilariethomas- I think it’s great that you posted the USEF rule and made these comments. I agree completely and I’m so glad someone else feels the same way.
    This industry needs to either follows it’s own rules, or change the rules to follow what it wants the rules to be. Why is everyone in such denial about things like this? The sooner we’re honest with ourselves and each other, the better off we’ll be.
    Want to market the breed? Want to attract people to the sport and keep them in it? Keep it honest. I feel that when people get into showing and start to notice rules not being followed by big barns or big names, they get discouraged.
    I’m not saying I have a problem with tailsetting/nicking in general. I’ve worked with Saddlebreds & Morgans alike, and I’ve done many types of tailsets, bussles, and I’ve worked with tails that have been cut previously. I’m fine with any setting/nicking/cutting of any tails that THE RULE BOOK allows.
    We can’t help what’s been done up till now, but I think we need either more consistency in judging/training, or we need a major rule change.

  34. rodmanstables says:

    And yes, I know bussles are ok under the current rules. Forgot to mention that – It’s the actual nicking that I’m referring to -

  35. rodmanstables says:

    oh yeah, and I guess I obviously spelled “bustles” wrong about 50 times in this huh? lol. Major fail.

  36. Vintage_Rider says:

    Yes Hilarie, I am definitely a hands on owner. I know you don’t know me, but I have also won several regional championships as well with NO trainer in tow. I don’t know how one could miss it happening in a stable if you are there often at all based on what Stacy says for the healing process. Has one been nicked before I got it? Perhaps, I wouldn’t know. But I do know where to look. I just wouldn’t want it done, and I am sure I would get the bill if it happened while in my hands. Trainers don’t eat vet bills.

    Rodman, how does one spell bussle, bustle, busslesprouts? LOL… I agree it should be the rules get followed… another one being broken is the natural tails THAT ARE TIED ON…now THAT is a major FAIL….

  37. Trisha says:

    I don’t necesarily think that it’s the jobs well done that are the problem, it’s the bad job and poorly maintained tails that cause the biggest problem. A well done “altered” tail carriage isn’t too noticable. But once you see the bugled scars and hairless tail bones; that’s what creates this trouble. Though mind you, I do fully agree that shows should enforce the rules regarding tail sets. I was at a regional a few years ago and the barn we shared an aisle with had at least one Morgan with a tail set on. There is no grey area to that rule, it’s clearly not allowed.

    I know of one mare in particular (from years ago) who would have been a World Champion Mare had her tail not been so horrible. At Oklahoma, the judge is given class specs before each class and tail carriage is a severe penalty, so that’s what happened with her.

  38. StacyGRS says:

    well, for starters, I NEVER said Anita cut tails and that, really, has nothing to do with this. I have worked for multiple people that didn’t cut tails. Just because I worked for an ASB trainer that did does not mean that everyone I worked for did, nor does it mean that we do.
    The statement that you can’t tell a cut tail after it’s been cut, and the theory that owners could not have a clue this had happened is contrary to the idea of being able to sit in the stands at a horse show and be able to tell that horses tails are cut or that, if they are askew, that ‘it didn’t happen naturally’. IMO, either way…straight or crooked, unless there is an immediate care issue or they are kept in an extreme manner, it’s near impossible to look at a tail from afar and tell if it’s been cut. And whoever said they’d get a bill, I would guess was right. I can’t imagine a trainer paying the vet bill, after care, etc. with no notice to the owner and no evidence. I don’t think anyone really has to worry about their horse having it’s tail cut without their knowledge. It’s not worth the cost and risk, should there be a problem, of doing it without owner consent. Most trainers don’t look for liability issues, we try to avoid them:)
    There were crooked tails when I was a kid. Some weren’t as evident because the horses weren’t kept in bustles and horses weren’t encouraged to flag their tails and be as expressive with their tails then. The more a horse uses their tail, by flagging it or raising it, the more evident it’s going to become if it’s crooked.
    I never said cutting tails doesn’t happen, nor did I say I condone it or sets at shows, simply saying that judging every crooked tail as a tail that has been cut and poorly cared for is inaccurate and punishing every crooked tail lends to people wanting to correct them…leading them to cutting the tail. It just seems to be a bit of a cyclical issue. Just my thoughts…
    Stacy

  39. vaquera says:

    This is an interesting and informative discussion – I had no idea so many in Morgans not only use tail sets, nicking and bustles, but have excellent knowledge as to the use of them. I do agree that as long as the rules forbid such usages, the rules should be followed and enforced. Actually, I agree with the rules and would suggest that those who don’t activate to see if they can be changed so they would not be in violation. I don’t use or approve of nicking, tailsets or bustles and wouldn’t be comfortable in a barn which used them routinely, though perhaps the bustle could be justified as a temporary device to help those horses which Stacy et al. describe as being so tight in the hind as to make it uncomfortable or dangerous to ask them to wear harness. Note words “temporary training device” :-). For myself, I use reiki, massage and Tellington-Jones techniques and can’t help but think those work as well and it sounds as though they don’t take any more time than properly caring for mechanical aids. Guess it’s a matter of experience and choice. I don’t care to keep a horse inside all the time, either, nor do I care to shave off their feelers, which is what the whiskers are, especially around the eyes. But I have made the choice to stay with classes which aren’t as focused on cosmetics, such as ranch classes, trail, dressage, carriage, etc. – again, choice, and not saying anyone else has to do the same. Anyway, thanks for an interesting discussion!

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