Now that we are leaving fly season and winter/fall is comming around the corner, it is time to think about protecting your horses' tails in a tail bag. There are many reasons to use them, I once has a miniature horse's tail grow almost 4" in about a month, so her tail was dragging on the ground, I was amazed! The tail gets many benefits from a propperly used tail bag such as it is kept free from tangles, it is kept moisturized and since most of the tail is in the bag, it reduces the chance of breaking off hairs.
Tail bags are really easy to make and since my horses sometimes loose them in the pasture, I am glad to save money on them. I personally prefer the three tube tail bag, but I have noticed that the straight tail bag holds moisture a little bit better. Although the three tube tail bag breaks less hairs when used correctly...so you just have to decide which works better for you. I personally use both.
Maintenance on the horse...
Before I put the tail bag in each year I wash their tails, shampoo and condition. Then I apply some sort of leave in conditioner or moisturizer, I have been so dissapointed with 'comercial' leave in conditioners that I now just use baby oil which does a marvelous job of moisturizing! Then every week or 2 weeks, it really ends up depending on my schedule and how well the tail bag is staying in place, I take out the tail bag and redue it. At this time I reaply more baby oil or leave in conditioner and occasionally wash and condition the tail. If you leave the tail bags in for too long, the tail bag will have reverse effects since you will break hairs as it falls out.
How to Make it...
3 Tube Tail Bag --Braid in Tail Bag--
Cutting it out- measure the lenth of your horse's tail (from the tail bone down), then take that measurement and add 4", this will be the lenth of the fabric you cut, the width will be 7". So Cut out three pieces of material (Lenght of horse's tail + 4") X 7".
Sewing- Use either a 1/2" or 1/4" seam allowance, it does not make much of a difference so use whichever is most comfortable for you. I personally use a surge machine which makes a nice 1/4" seam. If you do not use a surger, go back and sew a zigzag stitch on the outside edge of your straight stitch. Once you have them sewn up you should have three tubes inside out with a seam on one side of the tube. Turn them right side out and then you can connect them together by using a rectangular peice of material (about 2" x 6"), some people prefer to make them longer so you can actually use this to tie the bag in, in my experience it stays in fine without, but this again is just personal preference. Your other option is to sew all the tubes together using appx 1/3 of each tube's opening. That is a bit more difficult, but I perfer to use that technique.
Tie in Tail Bag
Cutting it out- Use the measurement of the horse's tail again, but now cut the material to be about 3" shorter than the length of your horse's tail (from their tail bone to the ground). And make it 10" wide.
Sewing- Fold your peice of material in half (right sides in) and once again either use a 1/2" or 1/4" seam allowance. The only difference here is you also sew the bottom together. I like to round off the bottom to make it look nice. Then take a scissors and cut three tabs on the top (these are the tabs you use to tie it into the horse's tail). Make them about 5" deep, anything shorter does not tie and stay in very well.
A word about sewing materials...
I recomend lycra/spandex because it never ravels and stretches with the tail. I find it is pretty easy to sew like this, if you generally sew non stretch materials, you may need to change the tension on your sewing machine. I just use regular thread and either a universal or a stretch needle. But you can be creative because I have seen tail bages made out of fleece or even cotton!
Feel free to leave acomment if you have a question or anything to add!