I am fortunate that Pia is blessed with a plentiful tail. Even when left to the tangles of Summer Camp, it stays ridiculously thick (though slightly dreaded) and continues to grow at a rate rivaled only by those weird Barbie dolls that pump hair out of their head when you crank their arm.
Thus her "tail management" and "conditioning" regimen is pretty easy. Products don't really matter, and I can get by with a bit of basic shampooing and a spritz of show sheen in order to keep her looking thick and luscious.
P2, however lacks a nice god-given tail and in turn requires pretty much constant attention in order to eek out decently full, decently healthy looking locks.
Don't get me wrong, it's not an awful tail, but it takes a lot more love, affection and coaxing to get it looking (and staying) in decent condition.
So far this has resulted in me experimenting with various products and routines. I know everyone has their theory as to what is best for growth, but I've always erred on the side of "more is better" than the don't-touch-it-all-winter-and-let-it-grow camp. Plus I just like brushing through a nice, clean tail. It's fun. Why would I want to give that up?
But in terms of efficacy, I've noticed that when I don't touch a horse's tail all winter, it gets tangled and covered in gross stuff. And when it gets tangled and covered in gross stuff - hairs break on their own, or the beast inevitably hooks it on something and rips large chunks of dreaded tail out.
I will admit that brushing breaks off the odd hair, but I think it's a net gain over the dread alternative.
Recently I've been following Supermom's recommendation of using Infusium 23's leave in conditioner which I really liked. Especially for a deep conditioning following a bath you can feel a significant difference in the texture of the tail. I like it. Also, since she has arabians with crazy amounts of hair, I figure she knows what she's talking about.
But we recently ran out of Infusium and S picked up a new conditioner while she was at the feed store. We've only had it in the barn for a few weeks, so I can't really speak to the long term effectiveness/consequences but so far I love it.
It goes on light (really light), stays light, and totally negates the dirt-slick-layer issue. On top of that, unlike even a lot of decent conditioners, it really leaves Prairie's tail soft.
Not slick, but soft.
Then on top of that, I've found that I really only need to put it on once a week. The bottle claims that it lasts for two weeks, but I've found one week to be about the max before I feel like another spritz is necessary - which is still a longer interval than I've tended to go with anything else.
Finally, it's totally affordable. Not that I'm a total diva, but given that I spend more on my horses than myself in most regards, I feel like "hair care" is probably one category where perhaps I should still spend more on myself. And shoes. I definitely still have the edge on shoes...
Anyway. I'll keep you posted if prolonged use results in hair loss or rash or something wild, but right now I'm feeling like the Canter Mane & Tail Conditioner is well on it's way to earning a permanent spot in my groombox.
I know that this is a relatively basic product, which is why I'm fairly surprised that I've never even tried it till now, but whee! I love when cheap, common products are better than their spendier friends.