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A twitching tail when performing

This is a discussion on A twitching tail when performing within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Horse foaling tail twitching
  • Horse with very active tail when working

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    03-19-2013, 12:09 PM
  #11
Weanling
Keep in mind that there is also a pretty big difference between the type of tail swishing that could be mistaken for swatting at flies, and the tail that looks like a rear propeller as it helicopters around behind the horse.
     
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    03-19-2013, 12:13 PM
  #12
Foal
Back to the initial video I posted, can anyone offer a suggestion as to the horse's intent with his swishing? Is he uncomfortable and upset or just learning?
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    03-19-2013, 12:17 PM
  #13
Green Broke
This video is several years old but still one of my favorites.... a great example of a comfortable happy expression with an active tail.



A horse uses a lot of different parts of their body to express anger and discomfort as well, ears, eyes, head, etc. I think you need to look at the entire horse, not just their tails. My opinion on the video is that the horse is just working hard.
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    03-19-2013, 12:22 PM
  #14
Started
I think it helps then with balance on some things. Like when cat's almost fall over (just and example) then their tail goes up to help their balance.

But I think it might also just be a natural thing when they are doing new or difficult tasks. When I teach my horse new things he swishes his tail a lot. But it is not in discomfort or confusion, he is just processing the information.
     
    03-19-2013, 12:33 PM
  #15
Banned
My horse was/is a tail swisher! It can actually be rather annoying! However the trainer (a personal friend of mine for 10yrs and well proven, also a long time riding friend, so I know how she trains) said he's always thrown his tail around. He does it more in a spin (he's a reiner) however. I had the chiro to him about two months ago.....the swishing has decreased 10 fold. He still does it when I get after him, which is rare......it's better than bucking or rearing!

Also, some horses are genetically wired to be more 'expressive' with their tails;)
     
    03-19-2013, 12:41 PM
  #16
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Jane    
Back to the initial video I posted, can anyone offer a suggestion as to the horse's intent with his swishing? Is he uncomfortable and upset or just learning?
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Neither. Look at how tucked under his hindquarters are. He's working hard and so is his back. The muscles that work his back work his tail, and since the tail can move, it does.
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    03-19-2013, 01:04 PM
  #17
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by upnover    
This video is several years old but still one of my favorites.... a great example of a comfortable happy expression with an active tail.

ANDREAS HELGSTRAND - WEG2006 Freestyle Final - YouTube


A horse uses a lot of different parts of their body to express anger and discomfort as well, ears, eyes, head, etc. I think you need to look at the entire horse, not just their tails. My opinion on the video is that the horse is just working hard.
Perfect example of a wonderful horse putting every ounce of effort into her work. The ears tell you this horse is neither in pain or angry. She just put so much effort into her work, her whole body was involved. Such expression is not always a bad sign. If you can't tell when wringing is pain/anger and when swishing shows a horse doing its job with gusto, well.......
     
    03-19-2013, 03:22 PM
  #18
Foal
I love that Andreas Helgstrand video: thanks!

Thank you everyone for you responses.
     
    03-19-2013, 04:47 PM
  #19
Weanling
Love the WEG video too - cracking horse!!

Just to add, something I was taught many years ago that stuck with me was that you watch for a *stiff* tail, when the horse is working well the tail should be dynamic and swinging with the movement. If a horse is swishing and the tail looks stiff, that could be an indicator of discomfort etc, but one where the tail is really swinging with the movement is just that, movement of the tail vertebrae along with the rest of the spine when the horse is working it's back well.
     
    03-19-2013, 07:41 PM
  #20
Foal
My mare was twitching her tail a lot and throwing her head too. I knew she was hurting so we took her to a chiropractor and she was out in her neck shoulders back and hips. I mean EVERYWHERE. She was so bad she had stall rest for 4 days and then only let out in a small pen by herself for another 3 then she could be let out. That's my experience in one way.

The other is not understanding. My mustang filly swishes her tail when doing ground work and when I'm on her and she's not understanding what I want from her.
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