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mel
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Posted: Sun Jul 8th, 2007 06:45 am
can a wry tail be hereditary? Would the only problem with a wry tail be a difficulty in moving straight, or could there be other issues arising ie foaling issues in broodmares?
DrDeb
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Posted: Mon Jul 9th, 2007 06:45 am
Mel -- A "wry" tail in the common parlance means that the horse twists or holds its tail to one side. Generally this is seen with Arabians but may also occur in other breeds; I have seen it in TB's, QH's, and Morgans. It is the result of emotional tension in the horse that is manifesting physically as tension in the muscles of the topline (some of those muscles control the movements of the tail).

A "wry" tail as above described is not broken, fractured, or malformed. It is possible for a horse's tail to be broken, in which case there will be a permanent crook in it. This crook is not to be confused with the kink in his tail that a horse gets when emotionally tense, and which goes away as soon as he becomes OK on the inside.

It is also possible for a horse's tail to be malformed, and that in several different ways. This would be the only instance we have so far discussed that would be inheritable. However, I know no instance of malformation of the tail that would in any way affect birthing. The horse's tail does start or root up between his buttocks farther than most people think, but it's still fairly external. You can also get malformations of various types that affect the next vertebral unit ahead of the tail, that is, the croup or sacrum; but again, to affect birthing the deformity would have to be so severe that nobody would consider breeding the horse.

I'm curious, Mel, as to what brought up this question. Did somebody suggest your horse has a problem? Please write back and let us know. -- Dr. Deb

Mel
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Posted: Mon Jul 9th, 2007 11:16 pm
Well, I was looking at buying a broodmare and my friend suggested that I watch for a Wry tail as her sire, grandsire and the grandsires 3/4 brother all have it. My friend had a filly related to the mare in question (sire is the grandsire of the broodmare), and she too carried her tail to one side and her tail was often covered in poop as was her vulva, so my friend wondered if the wry tail was the cause of and whteher a vulva covered in poop would cause breeding problems (infections etc). It was I who thought perhaps the wry tail might cause internal problems as well as I thought it may be from a twist in the spine.

Now, I too have a little filly I bred who is related to this family, and now that it has been pointed out to me, she seems to carry her tail to one side as well, but only when excited... which to me would suggest it is a result of emotional tension like you said in your post. I have been watching her like a hawk and cannot see it when she is relaxed, but hope I am not just kidding myself!

I will have to clarify with my friend whether the horses were excited or not when they held their tail this way (being Arabians they are often presented at liberty or at shows in an over-the-top state of excitement)... I have seen most of these horses in the flesh but didn't notice any wry tails myself - but can now see it in photos my friend showed me - it does seem like an interesting coincidence that the entire family has this trait.

What do you think? Perhaps it is just how this family show there tension - or maybe it is something deeper?

Cheers,

Mel.

J
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Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 06:22 am
Hi mel, thanks for pointing me to this site.It sure looks like a great place to learn things.

As mel has mentioned I have noticed several horse families who seem to breed or pass a wry tail on. I must admit I have never thought as it as a excietment triggered thing and would agree that it is at it's best when view in an excieted horse. I will say that I did notice that even at the walk the tail was raised and held to the side and from behind one could see the vulva clearly. Interesting that all the tails are held on the same side of the body in each horse I think about. 

I know that the " older' breeders concidered this a fault but they never did tell me why .. I wish I had asked them though.

DrDeb
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Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:02 am
Dear Mel and J: Let's do Mel's question first concerning the vulva always being dirty with poop. This is not due to the wry tail, but probably to the fact that the mare has a tipped vulva.

This occurs primarily in speedy horses, and is quite common in Thoroughbreds although not unheard-of in Arabs. When we say the vulva is "tipped" we mean that instead of the external surface being vertical or near-vertical, it is more horizontal -- so instead of being oriented at nearly 90 degrees it's more like 65 degrees.

This occurs because the ischial part of the pelvis -- that is to say, the part of the pelvis that is behind the hip sockets -- is long. This is not "natural" but due to selective breeding. Long ischia confer speed, so if you're in racehorses, that's a good thing. The tradeoff is that the lower end of the vulva is at about the same level as the points of buttock, which are structured by the extremities of the ischia. Bottom line: when you make the ischia longer, so that they project farther to the rear, you make the horse faster but you also tilt the lower end of the vulva outward.

This makes it difficult for poop to fall off of the vulva, should any slither on by. Instead, the vulva acts more like a saucer and tends to retain anything that falls on it.

You may also realize from reading this that, again, a tipped vulva has no direct relationship to a wry tail (unless the whole rear end of the horse is malformed, which I doubt very much).

Also, as you think about the emotional cause of the horse carrying its tail "wry" or off to one side, you can also realize the solution -- it would be very desirable to learn how to get your horse 100% OK on the inside, so that he could even go to the show, yes even the halter class, and while all the other people are working to get their horses FRIGHTENED so that they will look "classy", YOUR horse will REALLY look -- and be -- classy. Don't you ever believe that everyone up there in the stands is really so ignorant or so crude or dull in their own spirit, that they do not recognize the difference between a horse that is performing in fear and the one that is really, actually, and deeply brilliant. As I have said in another thread, people who CAN'T tell this difference are very deeply mixed up.

So, the bottom line here is that I am saying that a "wry" tail is primarily a training and handling issue. The horse's body is his voice, and a wry tail is the Arabian horse's particular way of saying, "I am tense, I am unsure." It is certainly possible (and I believe it) that some bloodlines of Arabs get more unsure of themselves quicker, or get tense more easily, than others; and this will make those particular horses wry their tails very readily. But even they can be helped not to do this, by which I mean, you can help them get over having any inner need to do it.

Please do continue to write back in so that we can discuss how this may be accomplished.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

 

Mel
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Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 11:08 am
Thanks for all that information Dr Deb.

I have never been comfortable with razzing horses up for the show ring so if there is a way that even I can teach a horse to have fun out there without fear, I want to know about it. In the past I have tried leaping around like a lunatic, pretending to be another horse (complete with snorting and prancing) which my young horses seemed to enjoy at home... but of course once I got to a show it didn't exactly work!

Then there is my other concern... can you have sparkle in your horse on the ground and then jump on them for a nice plod around the block? Of course I know this can be done, but it doesn't happen often unless the horse is naturally confident or the handler rather gifted. I have no talent and a not-so-confident horse... but we are keen to learn :0)

Tasha on a different computer
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Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 05:35 am
Mel, what do you mean by sparkle on the ground?

DrDeb
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Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 06:59 am
Dear Mel: Tasha's question echoes the direction I also was going to take here. What do you mean by "sparkle"?

You need to think about this first, because (as I well know, being very familiar with it) there is a certain "look" that the halter-shows for Arabians reward.

The way I would go about this, specifically, Mel, is I would suggest you go find a quiet room that has a comfortable chair. Set an egg timer for 20 minutes, choose a time of day when there will be no one else around, and spend the 20 minutes meditating in your preferred style on this question: "What do horses who are at liberty in a field look like when they are most thrilling and inspiring?"

I am hoping that this approach will help you clearly bring up memories or "internal movies" or pictures in your mind's eye that are very clear. I expect there are some memories down in your mind someplace -- maybe this is why you got into Arabian horses in the first place -- when you were younger, you saw some of them doing something just absolutely magnificent when they were out in a field.

There is a second part to this meditation -- but I don't want to bring that up yet or mention it, until after you've written back here to tell me what you saw inside your mind when meditating on this. How do horses that are doing "something absolutely magnificent" actually look? How do their eyes look? Ears? Tail? Back and topline? Neck? What do they do with their legs, knees, hocks, fetlock joints? If the horse is moving, what is the "quality" of the movement, i.e. wooden, elastic, jerky, smooth and flowing? Can you hear the horse's footsteps? Are they loud? Does a horse that is magnificent tremble? Does it breathe loud? Does the horse sling or shake its head when it is magnificent, in your mind's eye?

Please try this out, and then let us know what you saw. This will be the beginning of your getting to have what you want -- the ability to bring out the brilliance in a horse without fear being any part of it. -- Dr. Deb

Mel
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Posted: Tue Jul 17th, 2007 10:54 am
Here goes:

The eyes are focused and bold but not "hard" or rolling around, nor dull and lack-lustre. The nostrils flared and sucking in the air without being used to snort and shy. The ears are pricked forward and the entire expression on the horse's face is one of bold curiosity coupled with a sense of fun. The front end of the horse is raised and the neck arching from it. The back is rounded not hollowed out. The tail is flagged and straight :0). The hocks underneath the horse, helping it to propell forward. The front legs reach far forward, almost strutting. The movement is elastic with a long stride and the footfalls are very light, the horse appears to barely touch the ground, even though it is exuding all that power. There isn't loud breathing or head tossing. The only trembling is from the human onlookers!

All this kind of sounds like a top notch dressage horse.




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