Monday, February 9, 2009

Tails of Woe

This post has been a long time brewing, but it has been brought to the forefront by Andrea's recent link to a news story about horse tail theft. We also have tail thieves at Farcical Farm -- their names are Timbit, Morsel and Roland McNugget.

Last month we noticed that Tonka's tail was unmistakably shorter than it had been, and several days later we caught the goats in the act of eating it. Raven's was normal at first, and we thought she was safe because she is so mean to the goats, but once they harvested Tonka's low-hanging fruit they started sneaking up on her from behind. Now both horses look silly at best (thank goodness I don't show), and their ability to protect themselves from insects has been compromised at worst. I guess we should be thankful that the goats are so short.

We could stop turning the goats out with the horses, but that would be boring for all parties. The goats love their big buddies, and Tonka loves the goats right back. He and Timbit spend a lot of time eating and playing together -- you will often see Tonka knocking Timbit with his nose to get a head butting in return. The better solution is to protect the horse's tails when the goats are around, but how?

Last week I put grommets in the tail flaps of all the horse blankets so that we can tie tail bags onto them, but even that doesn't provide Tonka with enough protection. He lets the goats stand with their hooves on his hocks to reach the hairs around his dock (he also lets them chew on his chestnuts, by the way -- we think he lacks some gene for equine dignity). I hope that I can find a full-tail wrap that will withstand their...er...attentions. Yesterday all three were playing tug-o-war with his tail cover while he had a nap in the sun.


14 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think Tonka is a funny guy. It goes to show you that goats will eat most anything, tails can't be tasty. I don't think any of my horses would let goats eat their tails.

You would think the tail bags would have been the solution. If they are still eating the docks, would it help to use a polo wrap or bandage wrap around the dock. I do think they sell tail wraps but I have never used one so I am not sure. Good luck with this problem.

Kristina said...

Maybe a mud knot? I've never used one myself but it would keep the tail high enough so that the goats can't reach.

Or one of the tail bags from greenhawk that are braided in maybe?

http://www.horsegroomingsupplies.com/horse-forums/helping-your-horses-tail-grow-21935.html

http://www.greenhawk.net/cgi-local/SoftCart.exe/scstore/p-BLD1737.html?L+scstore+zdjx7791ff578e57+1234279675

PS I am absolutely sure that my gelding would stand and let them chew on whatever they wanted as well.

Kristina said...

(They do sell tail wraps but I'm not sure if they're meant to be left on for more than a couple hours. I use mine when my horse has a pinwheel braid in his tail for shows)

Jean said...

I don't know anything about goats OR horses, but I wonder if you could spray the horses' tails with the Bitter Apple spray (or something similar) that is used to keep dogs from chewing furniture, hot spots, etc.? Of course, the goats might just think it is a little dressing on their hair salad!
A liberal dose of tabasco sauce on the tail, perhaps?????

dp said...

Goats like to try eating anything that isn't normally considered edible. They are very troublesome that way.

Kristina: Welcome! I tried Tonka with a braided-in tail bag and it didn't work either. He needs protection from the dock down. I am thinking of a tail bandage followed by a tail bag. I know that some of the neoprene dock wraps are OK to be left on for longer periods. I also a agree that a full wrap may not last.

Jean: We did consider that, but I am quite sure that bitter apple would be nothing more than salad dressing, and I think that tobasco or cayenne would be dangerous. Their tails come into contact with some very sensitive regions...

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Ummm......I was wondering what you meant when you said: 'Tonka's low-hanging fruit' gah!

I'm actually glad it was just his tail.
lol!

Very clever tail wrap. Silly goats treating the horse's tails as play things and snacks, though.
I've often thought of putting a goat or two in with my mare, but I'd faint if her long beautiful tail was chewed short. ack!

I bet watching the goats playing with Tonka's wrap made you giggle, though :D

~Lisa

Funder said...

I can't believe how cute those goats have become. Pygmy goats must be the only mammals who look cuter full grown than as tiny babies.

Take heart! The horses' tails don't look worse than some broodmares who are about to wean their troublesome foals. As long as you can keep the goats off of what's left of their tails, the horses should be ok this summer. When I bought her, Silky's tail was exactly as long as Raven's is. (And her mane was nibbled quite evenly to about 4" in length. Hopefully the goats won't discover manes!)

oregonsunshine said...

dp, Can you think of a fabric that might be goat proof? I'd be happy to sew a couple for you if you can!

dp said...

LOR: I'm not sure that Tonka would let the goats chew on his weenie, if that's what you're talking about. I'm also not sure that he wouldn't, thought...he's a horn dog!

Funder: Thanks! Pygmy goats really cuties with such expressive little faces. This picture is from the fall...they haven't gotten any bigger, but they got very woolly for the winter. Good to know that there is hope for our tails.

OS: Thanks for the offer! I'll definitely let you know if I need professional assistance...

Black Jack's Carol said...

I have nothing of any use to offer here, but want to put in my 2 cents worth in favor of mellow and easy-going personalities like Tonka's. Dignity, equine or other, is highly overrated, or at least, should entail:) the characteristic of not sweating the small stuff, and appreciating your friends, tail-munchers or no:)

Black Jack's Carol said...

One more example of your ingenuity in making a weird (ok, unusual) characteristic work to your communicative advantage. Who would have thought? Maybe, some day, you'll turn this blog into a book and thousands will seek out the training potential for horn dogs.

Black Jack's Carol said...

Whoops, second comment was to go on other post. sorry!

allhorsestuff said...

ouuu, they look like little pony tails...cute but nibbley little goaties!
KK

FarmFrau said...

I have the same problem with tail chewing pygmy goats. My poor horse's tails are practically chewed to the nub.

The bad news is that I have been trying for the past 2 years to get them to stop and have found nothing that works.

The good news is that your little barbers will get better and better over time and eventually their handiwork will look downright professional. Folks will ask you why you cut your horse's tails that way and you'll have a funny story to tell:)