Well, it is a similar thing to the cropping of dogs ears, however it is less... Traumatic. We are not cutting off parts of them. Why crop a dobermans ears or dock his tail? Just for looks.
It started off as a safety thing with the carriage horses, so that they could not clamp down should the lines get under the tail. Now it is purely for fashion. The high tail balances the image with the high neck. The horse maintains full use of his tail(exceptions occur with neglect of the tail during healing).
To reassure you, I posted a few pages back, we are slowly moving away from the practice. It is legal in every division for a horse to be shown with an unset tail, our judges(which are also our trainers) are getting used to them, and many shows, including the World Championships have added natural tail classes where they are playing on an even field. Right now, they stick out like a sore thumb and draw the eye. In doing so, every fault and mistake they make is noticed. They must make flawless shows and be considerably better than the rest. As they grow in popularity they will tie better. It is like odd colored horses or horses with a lot of white. They have to be so much better.
We are working on it as an industry. There are many who love it and many who don't, but steps are being made to encourage natural tails and not penalize those who show in the higher divisions without a high tail.
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