Are Draft Horses Tails Docked

Danielle Fletcher
• Friday, 30 October, 2020
• 8 min read

The tight rubber rings block blood flow to the lower portion of the tail, which will atrophy and fall off. Docking is the intentional removal of part of an animal's tail or, sometimes, ears.

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It used to be the custom to chop them off on a block by means of a chisel and mallet. “Many breeds of sheep have their tails docked to reduce the buildup of feces which can encourage fly strike.

Docking also makes it easier to view a grown ewe's udders to detect potential problems. While tail docking is an effective preventive method in some cases, if it is not carried out correctly it may result in other problems such as ill thrift or rectal prolapse.

Docking at that length has been recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Depending on the animal and the culture, docking may be done by cutting (knife or other blade), searing (gas or electrically heated searing iron), or constriction methods, i.e. rubber ring elaboration.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association indicates that pain, stress, recovery time and complications associated with docking of livestock will be minimized by docking when animals are under one week of age. However, docking of lambs within 24 hours of birth is not recommended, as it may interfere with ingestion of colostrum and/or formation of the maternal bond.

This is contested by a wide range of groups and is sometimes considered a form of animal cruelty. For example, in the United Kingdom tail docking was originally undertaken largely by dog breeders.

tails horses short horse why some breeds tail docked cut draft docking they rigging harness
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However, in 1991, the UK government amended the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966), prohibiting the docking of dogs' tails by lay persons from 1 July 1993. However, following the passage of the law, the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in November 1992, ruled docking to be unethical, “unless for therapeutic or acceptable prophylactic reasons”.

The requirement in which the Royal College considers prophylactic docking to be acceptable are so strict as to make the routine docking of puppies by veterinary surgeons extremely difficult. Vets who continue to dock risk disciplinary action, and can be removed from the professional register.

Those found guilty of unlawful docking would face a fine of up to £20,000, up to 51 weeks imprisonment or both. In 1987 the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, established by Council of Europe, prohibited docking for non-medical reasons, though signatory countries are free to opt out of this provision, and almost half of them have done so.

Other countries where docking is banned include Australia and the United Kingdom. For example, a draft horse used for hauling large loads might have had its tail docked to prevent it from becoming entangled in tow-ropes, farm machinery, or harness; without docking, it could be dangerous to the horse, painful if the tail were tangled, and inconvenient to the owner to tie up the horse's tail for every use.

In modern use, the term usually does not refer to tail amputation as it does with some dog breeds. Tail docking of dairy cows is prevalent in some regions.

breton horse horses tail dock cheval draft breeds massive muscle breed belgian um clydesdale trait chevaux ecran fond pretty most
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Some anecdotal reports have suggested that such docking may reduce SCC (somatic cell counts in milk) and occurrence of mastitis. However, a study examining such issues found no significant effect of docking on SCC or mastitis frequency or on four measures of cow cleanliness.

Similarly, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association opposes docking tails of dairy cattle. Cattle on large Australian cattle stations often have the tail brush (not the dock) cut shorter (banged) before their release; this “bang-tail muster” indicates those having been counted, treated, their current pregnancy status determined, etc.

Tail docking in the dairy industry is prohibited in Denmark, Germany, Scotland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and some Australian states, as well as California, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Several large organizations within the dairy industry are against tail docking because of the lack of scientific evidence supporting claims benefiting the practice.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that there are numerous animal welfare issues with this practice (such as distress, pain, increased activity in pain receptors in the tail stump, abnormal growths of nerve fibers, sensitivity to heat and cold, and clostridia diseases). Fortunately, there is an effective and humane alternative to tail docking, which is switch trimming.

In the case of domestic pigs, where commercially raised animals are kept in close quarters, tail docking is performed to prevent injury or to prevent animals from chewing or biting each other's tails. ^ Giddings, N. D., Loukopoulos, P., Takes, P., Kritsepi-Konstantinou, M., Kaldrymidou, E., and Karats, H. Ill thrift in suckling lambs attributed to lung pyogranuloma formation.

tail horse without animals market elst inspection horses draft tails docked belgian nl dutch
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Veterinary Record, 165: 348-350, 2009. http://veterinaryrecord.bvapublications.com/cgi/content/full/165/12/348?view=long&pmid=19767640 ^ Thomas, D. L., D. F. Waldron, G. D. Lowe, D. G. Cortical, H. H. Meyer, R. A. High, Y. M. Berger, D. D. Cleverer, G. E. Ogle, R. G. Gottfredson, S. C. Porch, K. E. McClure.

Length of docked tail and the incidence of rectal prolapse in lambs. CS1 main: archived copy as title (link) ^ UK Debra Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock.

FAC report on the implications of castration and tail docking for the welfare of lambs. ^ UK Debra Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock.

CS1 main: archived copy as title (link) ^ Welfare Implications of Tail Docking-Dogs Archived February 25, 2014, at the Payback Machine American Veterinary Medical Association ^ Ear-Cropping and Tail-Docking People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ^ Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 Office of Public Sector Information ^ Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Schedule 3 Amendment) Order 1991 Office of Public Sector Information ^ “Tail Docking”. Livestock Welfare INSIGHTS Issue 4 – Jun 2003 Archived 2010-11-24 at the Payback Machine web page accessed September 1, 2008 ^ Tucker, C. B., D. Fraser and D. M. Weary.

Tail docking dairy cattle: effects on cow cleanliness and udder health. Evaluation of the scientific justification for tail docking in dairy cattle.

docking horses tails horse harness mud
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CS1 main: archived copy as title (link) ^ “Tail Docking of Dairy Cattle”. ^ “Welfare Issues with Tail Docking of Cows in the Dairy Industry” (PDF).

Drafthorsestails are cut short, docked to prevent their tails from interfering with the rigging of carriages or other equipment they pull. Docking is also used for cosmetic purposes, to keep the rear clean and to make it easier to harness a horse.

Removing a portion of a horse’s tail can lead to health problems, and is banned in some nations. When looking at some old logging photo from our area, I noticed many of the draft horses had docked tails.

Proponents raise four primary reasons for docking horsetails,safety, sanitation, mating, and cosmetic. When rigged to pull equipment a horse’s tail often got in the way or could become tangled. When the practice of nicking and docking started, it was reserved for use on horses owned by the nobility.

Nicking and docking fell out of favor in Great Britain but had spread and was commonly seen in Western European draft horses. To prevent this type of problem the most natural solution was to dock the tail and remove the safety concerns.

horse draft docking tale tail horses tails breeds undocked
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Supporters of tail docking claim a stallion is at high risk of injury when breeding with a long-tailed mare. The claim is the stud is likely to develop lesions and lose enthusiasm for further breeding.

The mating safety is rebuffed primarily through the lack of any evidence to support long-tailed mares cause lesions to stallions in any horse breed. The Belgium Animal Welfare Council points out that evolution would have corrected the mating issue related to injuries if they existed.

Mares would be at present naturally docked or ‘shaved,’ because males would’ve avoided copulating with females having a long tail or tails with other ‘dangerous’ characters or Stallions would’ve developed a ‘defensive strategy’ consisting of better protection of their penis against wounds potentially caused by the female tails. They argue that horses are more prone to parasite attacks when their tails are left intact.

The warm, moist, dirty area would be an ideal location for parasites to house. In the breed standards for some draft horses, they describe the tail as a rounded croup.

A horse’s tail is a complex structure that includes ligaments, muscles, and tendons, as well the circulatory anatomy. Advocates of docking propose that the procedure can be performed with minimal pain if done on very young foals.

draft tails docked horses clydesdale they close clydesdales rigging tours colt marge visits month don
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The theory is that very young foal don’t perceive pain in the same manner as older ones. Pain associated with an amputation can continue for several days or even weeks after the operation and could lead to neurological problems.

A whole host of insects bothers horses, including horseflies, mosquitoes, bees, wasps, and hornets. Horseflies and mosquitoes are parasites, and their ability to pierce the flesh can impair horse health, through disease transmission or allergy induction.

Horses prevent insect attacks through various natural methods: movements of the mane and tail hair, shivering, stamping and location shifts. They also group together and swish their tails to removing insects from one another in areas they can’t reach on their own.

Elevated tail When a horse shows attention to a subject, it will elevate its tail, head, and neck, prick its ears and turns his head in the direction of the subject. This posture transmits a vigilant state with a general mood of excitation, such as sexual arousal, aggressiveness, or fear.

Lateral tail movements may also be seen as transitional activities, between bouts of ongoing behavior and visual as well as auditory signals. When individuals work with horses, they need to take into consideration the communicative value of tail movements.

draft horse tail horses belgian docked tale why harness hunter disciplines advertised he extensions were
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Rinse the tail thoroughly with water, and follow up with white vinegar to ensure all the soap is removed. Keep your horses stall clean and feed it a properly nutritious diet with healthy minerals for its hair and coat.

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