Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Tail appears Fractured or Broken

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the horse seems to be in distress.
  • If you notice apparent wobbliness or weakness, in addition to this sign.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the horse seems to be moving freely, and has a normal appetite and attitude.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Maybe you saw your horse fall back onto its tail and now the tail seems injured. Or you noticed your horse’s tail bent to one side in what seems an abnormal way. Now what?

WHAT TO DO

Gently assess the tail and the area in front of it. Look for pain response, swelling, or wounds, and feel for heat. Gently elevate your horse’s tail and see if they resist. Horses can be very sensitive when this area is injured, and may kick.

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the horse’s ability to turn sharply to both directions. Monitor the horse to determine if they can defecate and urinate normally. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will examine and radiograph the area to determine whether a fracture exists. If the tail is fractured, there may be no treatment either practical or necessary. Horses can live with a crooked tail. The horse may or may not regain full movement of their tail depending on the location and severity of the injury. An important consequence of an injured tail might be the lost ability to swat flies.

Note: Injuries above the tail (the sacrum) can result in inability to urinate or defecate. These injuries might require more aggressive treatment and nursing care.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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