Is there any way to get my horses tail thicker, fuller, & longer? You could say he has a tail of layers. (i've only cut it once in the two years i've had him). I had hope of everything evening out but... it's not happening! Anyways... advice?
Good nutrition is important for growing a healthy tail. There really is no other way to make the tail grow, but there are some things that you can do to help prevent damage and hair loss.
To help prevent tail rubbing a regular deworming schedule, regular cleaning under the tail and conditioning at the top of the tail so that the skin doesn't get too dry are important. I like to use baby wipes to clean all the areas under the tail each time I groom.
I brush out the tail every time I groom as well. I know a lot of people don't like to brush the tail out regularly, but I have had no problems doing so. Each of my horse's came to me with tails that were thinner that they are now, and now their tails are pretty nice. I have over the years tried many different products on my horse's tails and the only one that I like and will now use is Miracle Coat Horse Leave In Conditioner Spray. It is all natural and has tea tree oil in it. It leaves the hair the most natural looking and soft and helps to keep it easy to brush out, also doesn't pick up dust like some do. I don't use it everyday, but will spray it in if the hair is starting to feel and/or look dry or if my brush isn't going smoothly through the hair when I start to brush it out. For brushing, I like to use the Oster style mane and tail brushes and I start at the bottom and work my way up little at a time and hold the hair above where I am brushing so I don't pull any out, then I may go through with a wide tooth plastic comb. A wide tooth plastic comb is best after a shampoo and conditioning when the hairs are wet, used in the same way as the brush, it won't pull or break the hairs. When used this way carefully you shouldn't be losing tail hairs.
I have never braided/bagged my horse's tails, so can't comment on that, but their paddocks get really muddy in the spring and I just use the same routine as above, but if the hairs are really super muddy, then I will hose the bottom of the tail off and then spray in the conditioner and comb out gently from bottom to top. Remember to hold the tail hair above the section that you are brushing or combing it will help to keep you from pulling hairs out.
My mare has an appaloosa tail. Its sad. As a "last ditch effort" I massage the roots whenever I get a chance, which is actually having results! I also put coconut oil on the roots, message, get some on the hair, and let it sit for 20 mins to an hour - then wash it. It is sloooow going though, I figure in a year, at best, it will be the "best it can be".
Alekazam and Hoopla, I agree with both of you. Limiting silicone products to special applications (burrs etc.), brushing only after carefully finger-combing the tail, using a good conditioner, not using too much product on the dock of the tail... There is a good article from Natural Horse Magazine about how to groom a horse's tail right here. You might like that.
I lather my mares tail in it and then braid it for a week at a time... when I take the braid out and (gently) wash the hairs, it dries with a moisturized poof!! I love it! Her mane and tail really stand out this year, and has gotten some nice compliments from my fellow trail riders.
Not the best picture I know, but its the only recent one I have that shows her tail off well enough. Using coconut oil has moisturized the hairs to the point they are not only thicker and more durable, but shinier as well with a richer color.
I've even started using the coconut oil in my own hair and was amazed at how my hair sprung to life after it. I just pick up a big jar of it at the grocery store in the cooking aisle while I shop... its a bit pricey (around $6 a bottle), but it's lasted me a month so far so I figure the price is well fit.
Edit: If you leave a thin layer of it in during the warm seasons (as it DOES freeze and harden, so I'd suggest using it in weather 70degrees are warmer unless you are braiding), it also acts as a detangler! We had a nasty wind storm, but because of the coconut oil in Indie's mane and tail, picking out the knots only took a couple minutes. Briers don't stick as they used too, and keeping it clean is a breeze :) I have a lot of good things to say about the product.