By the end of each summer my mare’s gorgeous, long tail has broken off at the ends and is considerably shorter. It’s not through any accident or mishap; just from constantly swatting at flies, getting the hair caught in a fence as she swishes her tail, and I’ve also seen another horse grab her tail during some rough play.
During the winter months, when she doesn’t need to get rid of bugs, I like to braid her tail and wrap it to keep it from breaking so she has a long tail by summer. Many people – especially those who are showing their horses – will continue to wrap the tails during the summer and will add long strips to the end so that the horse has something to help in the fly season.
It’s quite simple to braid and wrap a tail – but this is not to confuse with french braiding for showing. It is important to find the end of the horse's tailbone and start braiding loosely from there so that the bone itself is not constricted. When you reach the end of the tail, turn the braid up and bring it through the start of the braid. If you have a tailbag, you would then put the braid in the bag and tie the bag onto the start of the braid.
I usually use vet wrap and just wrap the braid. Start winding the vetwrap at the top of the braid, going all the way down to the bottom of the braid and then back up. When you reach the top of the braid, pull the vetwrap through the top of the braid (there will be a "hole" in the hair below the tailbone) and then tear off the vet wrap and wrap it against itself to hold.
If you are going to do this for any length of time, be sure to undo the tail weekly, comb it out and add some conditioner to the hair before re-wrapping it. I use either 5-in-1 Groomer (Miracle Groom) or Show Sheen. If the tail is tied up for too long, the hair will dry out and become brittle and then you could find that all the hair will break off and the tail will be far shorter than you had planned!