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


Tail appears Fractured or Broken


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?

  • 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.

your role


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.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What do you see that makes you think the tail is broken?
  • Does the horse appear to be in distress?
  • Is the horse walking normally?
  • Do you see swelling of the area, or deviation of the tail?
  • Can the horse move its tail normally?
  • Does the horse appear to be able to urinate and defecate normally?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP