This has confused me for a bit.
I know that when a horse swishes its tail it usually means that they are uncomfortable, etc.
I was watching my friend reining her horse (she was a world champion when she was a 2 year old--shes 18 now). I saw her swish her tail then my friend said, "Did you see her swishing her tail? That means the 'renining side' of her brain is on." I got puzzled but her trainer said that is what reining horses do.
When they swish their tails it means get 'get it'.
Not sure if that made sense. I've seen some more reining videos and during the spin I saw some reining horses swish their tails. However they didn't look irritated. They looked more relaxed, licking lips, etc.
Anyways, I need some reiner's advice!
9 times out of 10, a swishing tail is a result of spurs used too much or used improperly. It doesn't necessarily have to cause them pain, just enough to annoy them. After long enough being ridden that way, the tail swishing will often just become a habit and they will swish whenever leg is applied whether the spur is there or not.
I agree with smrobs. Might I add maybe not to get into a right or wrong with your friend.
In the turns you will see the tail swish as it is more of a balancing thing. If you watch the rythum of the tail is goes with the front feet. My mare will do it more the faster she goes. When I just put my leg on her to do other things like leads and such she does not do it.
Thanks for all the replies!
I'm curious about this too...my colt is in reining training, and he just swishes his tail a lot, like he is doing it subconsciously. Barely give him leg, he'll swish but he doesn't act annoyed, he goes on his mary way and completes what you ask of him. Will a horse get points taken off if they swish a lot?
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As far as I have seen......a horse is irritated/annoyed when his tail is swishing....some horses do swish when they are spinning and it does seem to be a balance issue......however in general, if a horses tail looks and sounds like a helicopter, he's annoyed....
Naturally a horse will swish its tail to indicate its annoyed/angry as a warning before kicking someone or another horse....
Exactly. When horses perform movements that require a lot of effort, they will often add so much effort that the tail will give a "sympathetic" swish. It is almost like when we grunt with the effort. If the swishing is rhythmic, it is probably this. It would be rare to see a dressage horse perform difficult moves without some sort of swish. If they do, I suspect they are not exerting themselves as much as they could be.
Now, a horse constantly wringing its tail (very different) it is likely anger or discomfort.
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