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Equine Health Resource

Tail Hair Loss, Broken Hairs at Base

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

    It takes about two years for a horse’s tail hairs to grow full-length. The tail is vital for swatting flies. Thus, the loss of tail hair is undesirable for reasons beyond mere cosmetic appearance.

    Broken hairs at the tail base usually indicate that a horse has been rubbing its tail head. This is commonly associated with insect irritation and hypersensitivity. Pinworm infestation also causes irritation to the skin around the anus. There may be increasing incidence of Pinworm infestation as resistance to parasite control compounds increased. Irritated, dirty sheaths can cause geldings to rub their tail heads.

    Similarly, mares that have accumulations of material around the udder, or smegma accumulation in the clitoral fossa within the vulva can also engage in this behavior. Very rarely, the hair shafts spontaneously break from nutritional or toxic causes.


    Inspect the mane carefully for evidence of similar hair loss there. Evaluate the facility for evidence of rubbing. Consider your parasite management program and whether insect irritation could be a contributing cause. Check the vulva and udder areas in mares. Assess the sheath in geldings. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.


    Your vet can assess your overall management and the horse’s general health, and help you manage many of the predisposing causes. Diagnostics may be run for parasites, including pinworms. In some cases, additional bloodwork and diagnostics may be necessary.

    Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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