What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Tail Raised or Held Off to One Side


Although a raised tail is common in certain breeds (Arabians), a horse that abnormally holds their tail off to one side should be evaluated further. A variety of conditions may cause a horse to hold their tail to the left or right, including abdominal pain (colic), neurologic problems, coat or skin conditions or injuries to or near their tail.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • Unless you notice signs suggesting colic or other underlying disorder.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
more observations

your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their attitude and appetite. Watch them for awhile to see if they are urinating and passing manure normally.

Gently lift the tail and feel and view its full length looking for signs of any abnormality. Raise and lower it. Move it side to side. Feel the muscle and ligament that joins the tail to the hip, the sacrum. Be very careful when handling the tail because manipulation may cause a horse pain. Examine the anal and vulvar area looking for any abnormalities, including injuries or skin conditions.

Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet will attempt to differentiate what is normal from any abnormal condition contributing to this tail position.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Do you notice any signs of abdominal pain (colic)?
  • Do you notice melanomas around the anus?
  • Do you notice abnormalities around the vulva or anal area?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP