The tail bandage has traditionally been used to protect the tail and dock while in transit and to help keep a pulled tail looking smart. However, with the development of other tail protection products the future of the traditional tail bandage looks unclear.
Products such as Velcro-fastened neoprene tailguards are easy to apply, easy to remove and easy to wash making them preferable to many horseowners, while the “old school” remains faithful to the traditional elasticated bandage.
Elasticated tail bandages need to be carefully applied if they are to remain in place, and bandaging is a skill that is only acquired through plenty of practise.
A tail bandage which is too loose will fall off and could get tangled in the horse’s legs, while an over-tight bandage could cause permanent damage to the tail.
Repeated use of an over-tight bandage may cause white hairs to appear in a dark coloured tail, damage to the underside of the dock, or in extreme cases, cause the tail hair to fall out.
An over-tight bandage can also cause an extreme “colic-like” reaction from the horse or pony, especially from those who have not worn a tail bandage before. Leaping around, rolling, sweating and bucking can all be caused by an incorrectly applied tail bandage. Remove the tail bandage and normality will be restored.
For the average horse owner I would say “if in doubt, go without”. A slightly rubbed tail can normally be brushed down at a show/hunt etc with a little water, although horses which really “sit back” and damage their tail when being travelled may need additional protection.