Tail Bleaching Tutorial

We interrupt this show recap to give you a tail bleaching tutorial! I know you all have been asking for it and my photographer decided he would rather edit jumping photos instead of dressage which is unhelpful for recapping.

Bleaching is really not that difficult, it is just a messy and time consuming process. In fact, if you’ve ever bleached your own hair, you’ll see that the process is exactly the same!

  1. Start with a clean tail
    Your horses’ tail may be stained brown or red or yellow but you still want to have it clean. Dirt in the tail will give you messy patches where the bleach might not take hold.
  2. Make sure you have all the suppliesFor the actual bleaching you will need a bleach and a developer. I like L’Oreal’s Quick Blue and 40 Volume Developer (you can use a lesser volume like 20 or 30 since we are already starting with a “white” tail but I am not taking any chances with getting the tail white!). I also use a product called Red Gold Corrector. It helps keep the bleached hair from turning yellow. I have been told this is optional.You will also need some version of bluing/purple shampoo (any horse or human brand will work). Gloves. A plastic bag. Vet wrap or other tape. If your horse is very dark and already has a white tail, you may want Vaseline to cover his butt hair to keep it from bleaching. I don’t do this with Gus as I only need to bleach the bottom.
  3. Mix the bleach according to the instructions on the bucketOr, if you are like me, guestimate and mix until you get the consistency you want (liquid but not supper runny so it sticks to the tail). If you are using the Red Gold Corrector, this is where you want to put it in. I usually put in 20-30 drops depending on how much bleach I am using.
  4. Apply bleach to the tail
    Cover all parts of the tail that you want to turn white. I didn’t get the bleach quite as liquefied as I would have liked but it still works. Make sure you get every strand covered (and are wearing gloves!).
  5. Wrap up tail and wait
    Put a bag around the tail and tape it up so that your horse doesn’t flick bleach all over himself. Wash off any excess bleach that may have gotten on your own arms or your horse’s legs. It shouldn’t have been on long enough to work at this point but you definitely don’t want to leave it!Wait around 30 minutes for the bleach to set. The longer you let it set the whiter it will be. If you interrupt it prematurely, you will get a yellow blond color, not white!
  6. Wash out bleach
    When you take the bag off the tail, you will notice a lot of heat coming from the tail. This is good, this means the bleach is working! YAY! Take your hose and wash out all the bleach with hot* water. You will be surprised at how soft the tail feels when the bleach is out of it… I always am!
  7. Wash tail with purple shampooWhen my husband was taking photos for me he stopped me at this point and said “his tail is still yellow!” Well, yes it is. In my case this is because I did not leave the bleach all the way in (see what happens in Step 5) and also because I hadn’t washed it again. Even if you leave the bleach in for the full time, you may still be shocked to see that the tail is yellow. Don’t worry though! Just apply that purple shampoo, wait as long as you can physically stand it (seriously, I leave purple shampoo in the tail for 20-30 minutes) and then wash it all out with hot water. Finish up by coating the tail in your favorite leave in conditioner (don’t want those stains to take hold!).
  8. Enjoy everyone complimenting you on how white your gray horse’s tail is!
    Photo from previous bleaching due to me not being patient with leaving the bleach in.




*When I say hot water, I do mean make it as hot as you and your horse can safely tolerate. Hot water is the secret weapon for keeping white things white.

Red Georgia Clay

There are a lot of things I like about living in the south like a longer show season, more options to show at, and mild winters. There are, however, two thins I really despise: the humidity and the red Georgia clay. I have grown up listening to, and loving, country songs but when I was singing along to the likes of Brooks and Dunn’s “Red Dirt Road” I had no idea. If you’ve never lived in or spent time in Georgia, let me tell you about it. Red Georgia clay is actually red (why do you think red brick houses are so prevalent down here?), it’s everywhere, and it stains everything.

Usually I can get Gus’ tail a pretty perfect white with just my trusty bluing shampoo and a lot of hot water but even I was thwarted this week when Gus came in with a tail worthy of any chestnut. Red Georgia clay does not care that I have a schooling show this weekend and that my horse should have a beautiful white tail… not this orangey mess. I half heartedly went through my normal bathing process but I knew it wasn’t going to do much to combat that tail.

So I pulled out the secret weapon and got to work.

Anybody who regularly colors their hair knows that dying and, in particular, bleaching hair is not good so I do not fall back on this regularly. Plus, it is a LOT of work. Usually I only bleach before something important. Last time I did this with Gus was when we took our engagement photos. That was a year and a half ago so I guess we were due.

Let me tell you, the bleach works!

I know several of you have asked me how I get Gus’ tail so white and I promise I will do a tutorial both on my shampoo method and how to bleach. I just wasn’t prepared to do it last night. You really need a second set of hands for pictures when you’re working with bleach!

Now hopefully Gus can keep this tail semi clean for two days so I’m not the “Horse with an Orange Tail” at Chatt Hills!