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


Tail is Limp or Does Not Move


You notice that your horse's tail does not seem to move. You lift it and it feels "loose" and limp. There is no resistance as you lift it. This can be a sign of spinal injury, nerve injury or neuromuscular diseases. Horses that are very weak or ill may show this sign. This observation may also be associated with intentional tail blocking in show horses.

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) looking for other signs of illness or injury, including any hind limb weakness or wobbliness, dribbling urine, or difficulty passing manure.

The primary problem for horses with paralyzed tails is their inability to protect themselves from flies. Due to this, talk to your vet about making changes in management and insect control to ensure that fly irritation is minimized.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you notice slow or difficult urination, or dribbling of urine.
    • If you notice apparent wobbliness or weakness, in addition to this sign.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
    • If the horse seems not to be passing manure normally.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • 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.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

Assess the tail area looking for swelling, heat, trauma or hair loss. Carefully pinch the skin around the horse's anus. That should cause a reflex in which the anal muscles tense and the tail moves. Assess lameness at the walk- do you notice any wobbliness or weakness? Share your findings with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet may suggest that they perform a physical and neurologic exam, as well as look at the tail itself.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?
  • Does the horse seem to be having difficulty urinating?
  • When was the last time this seemed normal to you?
  • Has the horse been a show horse?
  • Do you notice the horse dribbling urine?
  • How much manure has the horse passed over the last 24 hours?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP