Sunday, May 2, 2010

Banging the Tail

In the jumpers, most horses are shown with their tails banged. A banged tail is one that is cut straight across at the bottom to make it shorter. The bottom of the tail is not actually horizontal relative to the ground when the horse is at rest, but is cut to be horizontal when the horse raises its tail during work.

The length of the tail is really up to personal preference. Most jumper tails end somewhere between the fetlock and halfway up the cannon bone.

I'm going to show you today how I, personally, bang a tail to mimic the lift of the tail while the horse is ridden. I am right-handed, and the white circle represents my left hand while the red circle represents my right hand.

Step 1 - Put your scissors in a place where they will be easily accessible to you, such as in a pocket. Grasp the tail with your right hand right under the dock.

Step 2 - Lift the tail up to about the average carriage that you have seen when the horse is worked.

Step 3 - Keeping the tail held up with your right hand, wrap your left hand around the circumference of the tail just below your right hand. Squeeze the hairs of the tail together with your left hand as you run that hand down the tail to just above the height that you want to cut it at.

Keeping the tail held up while you do this step is very important!

Step 4 - While squeezing very tightly with your left hand so that no hair slips, let go of the dock and grab the scissors with your right hand. Cut straight across right below your left hand. You can cut straight across at this point because now the difference in hair length to account for the raised tail is above your fist rather than below it.

Step 5 - You're done! Lift up the tail by the dock again just to make sure that you've gotten it right (if you have, it should appear pretty much straight across when it's lifted as you see in this diagram). If it doesn't look perfect, just try again and take off the minimum to keep the tail from getting too short.

Some riders like to put something like a towel under the dock to hold it up while you cut. I believe that this just complicates things unnecessarily if you're able to keep the hair squeezed at the correct length with your fist, but use whatever works best for you.

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