Horses - Diet and Nutrition/horse tails


I have a 9 year old and a 6 year old Andalucian stallion. Both over the past three weeks have had small white( what I can only compare to as nit eggs on humans) in their tail hair. It is not in the mane and I cannot see anything on their body. It is throughout the tail and has caused quite a lot of hair loss from the bone down in the tail. Normally we have full and healthy tails. The horses live at home on straw beds with a bit of sawdust. They do have chickens next door and I have heard that some lice can cross over species. I do not want to treat them until I know what the problem is and thevets here are not that good. They have not lost any condition apart from their tails.

Hi Victoria,

Thank you for your question...and I must say I'm envious of you having 2 Andalucian stallions :)  It is possible for some lice to cross strains, although unusual.  Brittle tail syndrome results in what you are experiencing and could be one explanation for their tail hair loss.  Brittle tail syndrome causes weakening and breakage of tail hair, and banana-shaped  structures perforate the hair cortex from within likely giving the appearance of a small white structure on the hair.  The syndrome is caused by a newly identified fungus, Equicapillimyces hongkongensis (Wong et al, 2012), that appears to thrive in warm temperatures.  There are also a host of other fungi that can cause tail loss as well as mane loss.  Shapely's MTG works wonders on mane and tail fungus and can be purchased at some feed stores, tack shops or online.

I hope that helps.

Regards, Corlena

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Corlena Patterson


I can help with any of your horse nutrition questions and concerns. I have been involved with horses for closing on 40 years, with a B.Sc in Animal Science and currently working on an M.Sc in Equine Science with the University of Edinburgh. I have owned my own feed store, consulted professionally as an equine nutritionist, and lectured in the fields of equine and dairy nutrition at the University level for 5 years. I have developed and currently market 'Ration-X', a ration formulation program for horses...designed for the everyday horse owner. I am happy to help in any way I can.


Experienced in developing and implementing feed programs for horses of all disciplines, creating custom horse supplements and managing inter-disciplinary equine facilities. Specialize in equine nutrition consulting.

The American Society of Equine Appraisers

'Stable Management' Handbook, Equine Canada.

M.Sc (Equine Science-current), B.Sc(Agr) Animal Science, Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification, Farrier Certification, Equine Consultant Certification, Certified Equine Appraiser, Certified in Emergency Equine Rescue.

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