what I've always done is just really protect it..keep it braided year round (and be fair to your horse, put on a fly sheet during fly season if you're gonna be braiding it!) and throw it into a nice tail bag when it's at all muddy..taking it out as often as possible, no less than once a week. but a warning about tail bags: my last horse wore one fine for years but then one day one of his pasture mates ripped it clean out of his tail-taking chunks of his tail with it. be careful if your horse is kept in a pasture. it might be wise to put something like McNasty on it to prevent horses from messing with it.
I feed both ground flax seed and a splash of corn oil with grain, and that really helps. if you can afford extra, grand coat supplement works great.
as a detangler/shiner/leave in conditioner, I use Absorbine's Santa Fe and Eqyss Survivor. both really awesome products that I'm just in love with, after working with Show Sheen and Cowboy Magic for years and never being satisfied. these really do condition as they detangle (unlike Show Sheen, which is actually very damaging) and detangle like you won't believe. they help me get through my quarter horse's crazy thick tail even when it's a mess.
I always spray that and brush it thoroughly between braids. be careful when you brush! it's impossible not to break any hairs but the less you break the better. coat that thing with detangler and rub it in really thoroughly before taking a brush to it, and brush it as carefully as you have the time to. if you have the time to pick through it by hand, that would be the best situation, but I know none of us really have time for that these days.
with all of that and a solid diet it's enough to get a tail looking very nice pretty quickly.
I should also note, I've just recently invested in some MTG because I've heard nothing but good about it. I'd definitely had started using it sooner if I had remembered to. it definitely does smell like bacon. I had a slight problem getting it completely off of my hands even washing them right after, but I'd prefer not to wear gloves when working with my horse's tail because I want to be able to have feel and not break hairs. it will come off after a few washes, though, or a wash with some soft scrub..so it's up to you =)
Last edited by rocky pony; 12-28-2009 at 12:12 AM.