Search The Infography: 
The Infography

Horses -- Tail Amputation (Docking)

The following sources are recommended by an expert whose research specialty is the docking of horses' tails.


Six Superlative Sources

· Bär, G. 1974. Über Kosmetische Maßnahmen am Pferd unter Besonderer Berücksichtigung des Zeitraumes v. 16. bis 20. Jahrhundert. Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines Doctor Medicinae Veterinariae durch die Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover. Leiter: Professor Dr. E.-H. Lochmann. English summaries. Cosmetic Measures on the Horse with Special Emphasis on the Period from the 16th to 20th Centuries. Inaugural Dissertation Submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Veterinary School, Hannover. Supervisor: Dr. E.-H. Lochmann. Illus., bibliography. 191 pp. After tracing the practice to its earliest known description in 370 B.C., Gudrun Bär mines centuries-old letters and handbooks left by horse dealers, farriers, blacksmiths, horse breeders, surgical and veterinary texts of the Hannover Veterinary School, Bavarian State Library, and other veterinary faculties. She traces chronologically the changing fashions in tail docking, nicking, cauterizing, and other treatments of the amputated or nicked tail, and the effect on the health of the horse. Popularized by English fashion, the practice remained on the continent long after the English forbade docking of military horses at the close of the 18th century, in the interests of disciplined maneuvers on insect-infested foreign battlefields. It was prohibited in Germany in 1933. Other cosmetic measures described include cutting of the ears, artificial eyes, artificial coloring, and, when the fashion changed, cultivating longer mane and tail hair.

· Cregier, S. 1990. "Shocking Docking: Mutilation before Education?" Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 10:4, pp. 252-55.

· Dent, A. 1983. "Shocking Docking." Equi (U.K.). 15, pp. 4-7.

· Jefferies, G.E. 1998. "Pain Management: Dr. Jeffries Examines the Ways in Which the Pain That We Experience Is Actually "Felt" by Each of Us." In Motion. 8:3, May/June.

· Scott, M. 1989. "Unethical Surgeries." Horse Illustrated. September, p. 6.

· Stull, C.L., M.A. Payne, S.L. Berry, and P.J. Hullinger. 2002. "Evaluation of the Scientific Justification for Tail Docking in Dairy Cattle." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 220:9, pp. 1298-303. 46 refs. Tail docking of cattle originated in New Zealand in the 1990s. As do docked horses, docked cattle lose the use of the tail as a communicator, insect remover, and body heat regulator. Clostridial disease, gangrene, and tetanus that can occur after docking require prophylactic vaccination. Regulations and docking methods from banding to hot irons and age of docking vary within a country and internationally. Limiting tail management to cutting the end hairs (switch) only resulted in an increase of biting insects, stamping, and head throwing, though not to the degree that docking did. Acute and chronic pain was suspected when tails were docked. Tail docking had no benefits for udder and milk hygiene or dairyman safety. The prevention of leptospirosis in dairymen was not improved with tail docking, but more likely due to the presence of cattle urine throughout the environment. The authors conclude that there is no apparent benefit to the practice. Milking practices and milking-parlor design were found to be more important in hygiene and disease prevention practices. As consumer demand for higher farm-animal-welfare standards grows, countries with a standard against the practice speak with greater authority at international trade negotiations.

Other Excellent Sources

· Alberta Farm Animal Care. 2003. "Traditional Practices under Scrutiny: Tail Docking in Heavy Horses." Livestock Welfare Insights. 4, p. 2. June. The British Horse Society demonstrates that there is no safety requirement to dock the tails of horses in harness, and it negates arguments by Bruce Roy, also featured in this article and editor of a Canadian heavy-horse publication, that tails need docking for cosmetic and safety reasons.

· Albright, J.L., et al. 1999. "Guidelines for Dairy Cattle Husbandry." In: Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research and Teaching, J.A. Mench, ed., Federation of Animal Sciences Societies, Chapter 6, pp. 37-47.

· Ashley, F.H., A.E. Waterman-Pearson, and H.R. Whay. 2005. "Behavioural Assessment of Pain in Horses and Donkeys: Application to Clinical Practice and Future Studies." Equine Veterinary Journal. 37:6, pp. 565-75.

· Baker, T. 2000. "Southern Counties Heavy Horse Association: Spring Working and Progress Day 2000." The Joy of Horses.

· Bartko, J., and C. Bartko. 2007. "Our Showing Philosophy: Why Don't Black Forest Shires Horses Have Docked Tails or 'Scotch Bottom' Shoes?" Black Forest Shires. Black Forest Shires breeders put the welfare of the horse over the ribbons, accepting that they may win fewer ribbons. Nor does Black Forest Shires take part in hitches, which typically demand docked tails. The site features their undocked champion stallions.

· Blazer, D. 1983. "Cut Tails: What Price Victory?" Horse and Horseman. 11:8, October, pp. 16-18.

· Brown, L. 2008. "The Tail End: Safety or Cosmetics?" HorseCare Magazine. October-November, pp. 37-38, 40-41. The author interviews: Bruce Roy, proponent of docking by elastrator; Dick Sparrow, who drove docked and undocked 40-horse hitches; Terry Whiting, chairman of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association; A.J. Neumann, contributor as "Amerca's Draft Horse Vet" to the Draft Horse Journal; Sharon Cregier, equine ethologist. Despite veterinary disapproval, the practice of docking tails continues.

· Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Committee. 1992. Report to the 1992 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Annual General Meeting, Calgary, Alberta. Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

· Cregier, S.E. 1990. "Veterinary Ethics: An Oxymoron?" Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 10:2, pp. 80-81.

· Cregier, S.E. 1987. "The Psychology and Ethics of Humane Equine Treatment." In: Advances in Animal Welfare Science 1986/1987, M.W. Fox and L.D. Mickley, eds., Martinus Nijhoff, pp. 77-87. Illus., 39 refs. Resistance to improvement in animal welfare has a psychological and cultural basis limiting the effectiveness of the educational, legislative and role-model approaches. Change comes with improved self-concept.

· Curzon, G.N. 1892. Persia and the Persian Question. Vol. 1. Longmans, Green; reprinted by Adamant Media, 2001. Curzon remarks that Persians dock their horses' tails when they are displeased with the animal, even though the practice diminishes the horses' usefulness and value. Relevant excerpt available at:

· Dent, A., and D.M. Goodall. 1962. Foals of Epona: A History of British Ponies from the Bronze Age to Yesterday. Galley Press. Types of docking, p. 210.

· Dog World. 1999. "Docked Dogs: Norway." Dog World. January 18.

· Equine Practice Publisher. 1991. "Editor's Note." 13:9, pp. 4-5. American Horse Shows Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners policies on tail docking.

· French, N.P., and K.L. Morgan. 1992. "Neuromata in Docked Lambs' Tails." Research in Veterinary Science. 52, p. 389.

· French, N.P., et al. 1994. "Lamb Tail Docking." Veterinary Record. 134, pp. 463-67.

· Goble, D.O. 1990. "Solutions to Selected Draft Horse Problems." Proceedings of the 35th Annual (Boston) Convention, 1989. American Association of Equine Practitioners.

· Grandin, T., ed. 2000. Livestock Handling and Transport. 2nd ed., p. 134.

· Hamilton, S. 1980. "Forty Horses Forty: How an Iowa Farmer Became a National Celebrity with Just a Little Help from His Friends." Equus. 28, pp. 24-26, 28. Undocked horses used in the forty-horse hitch.

· Harris, S. 1997. "Grooming: Short Tale of a Short Tail." Equus. 231, pp. 74-75.

· Hayes, K.E. 1999. "Mutilation." In: Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion, S. Young, ed., Vol. 2., pp. 693-95. Illus. The practice of mutilation of women parallels the justification of cosmetic surgery on horses. Both express the desire to reshape the woman or animal to various tribal or community ideals, to prove endurance in the face of pain, to punish, or to concentrate the strength that would have gone into the severed body part into another part of the body.

· Hayter, E. 1968. The Troubled Farmer: 1850-1900: Rural Adjustment to Industrialism. Northern Illinois University Press. 1st ed., p. 47.

· Hillenbrand, L. 1997. "Winning at All Costs." Equus. 233, pp. 34-42, 44-45.

· Hyers, L.L. 2006. "Myths Used to Legitimize the Exploitation of Animals: An Application of Social Dominance Theory." Anthrozoös. 19:3, pp. 194-210. Table, 56 refs. Offers qualitative data demonstrating how treatment of animals within a human-animal hierarchy is justified in the areas of farm animal, medicine, and non-necessities. The author outlines parallels between human-animal and human-human prejudices.

· Jeffries, G.E. 1998. "Pain Management: Perioperative Oain." In Motion. 8:4, July/August.

· Kent, J.E., et al. 2000. "Effects of Acute Pain Reduction Methods on the Chronic Inflammatory Lesions and Behaviour of Lambs Castrated and Tail Docked with Rubber Rings at Less than Two Days of Age." Veterinary Journal. 160, pp. 33-41.

· Kilby, E. 1997. "Equus Award: Doug Byars, DVM." Equus. 232, pp. 29-35.

· Kilby, E. 1997. "Paradoxical Pain." Equus. 237, pp. 30-34, 36, 38-40.

· Kopp, K. 1988. "Tail-Abuse Test Sparks Controversy." Equus. 126, pp. 11-12, 14.

· Lawson, R.S. 1973. "Amputations through the Ages." The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery. 42:3, pp. 221-29. Illus., 45 refs. The surgical career of Sir Gordon Gordon-Taylor was based on his experiences as a military surgeon and study of historical precedent. Results of methods of amputation and changes in attitude made the surgery less frequent. The careers of surgeons from Hippocrates, the Arabian School, Ambrose Paré (1510-90), Fabricius Hildanus, Baron Larrey, and others through World War I, use of the tourniquet, ligatures and cautery, anesthetics, and complications on land and sea are summarised.

· Lewis, R.W. 1991. "Amputation of the Tail of a Horse as the Basis for a Malpractice Suit." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 198:12, pp. 2056-58.

· Lips, D., and S. Aerts. 2006. "Tail Docking in Horses: Tradition, Economy, Welfare and the Future of the Belgian Draft Horse." Abstract and figures only in: Ethics and Politics of Food, M. Kaiser and M. Lien, eds., Wageningen Academic Publishers, pp. 533-34. 2 figs., 8 refs. Cosmetic tail docking was prohibited in Belgium in 2001. Docked horses, even if legally docked earlier or elsewhere, may not be shown. A 2004 effort by Belgian draft horse breeders to reverse the prohibition on the basis of tradition, convenience, and economics failed. The authors note that, historically, tail docking was not universal. The "convenience" of tail docking was not adopted by other draft breeds. The authors suggest the current level of breed numbers contradicts the assertion that there is no market for undocked horses. Arguing from a consideration of the animals' needs, zoocentric opponents of tail docking reiterate horses' needs for protection from flies, infection, chronic pain (possibly dependent on the method of docking), and the use of the tail to communicate. Concern about the possibility of tails getting caught in the reins and agitating the horses was a question of training. The authors contend that further physiological, historical, and economic research will settle any remaining doubts as to tail docking's unethical and detrimental practice. An European-Union-wide harmonization of regulations against tail docking would protect horses particularly in eastern states. Nevertheless, horses continue to be docked for "veterinary purposes" as a means of circumventing the prohibition.

· Loring, M. 1990. "Negligence Upheld $34,000 Award in Case of Horse with Amputated Tail." DVM Newsmagazine. September, p. 71.

· Lowder, M.Q., et al. 1991. "Tail Blocking in a Quarter Horse Equine Practice." Equine Practice. 13:6, pp. 17-19.

· Mellor, D.J., and L. Murray. 1989. "Effects of Tail Docking and Castration on Behaviour and Plasma Cortisol Concentrations in Young Lambs." Research in Veterinary Science. 46:3, pp. 387-91.

· Morton, D. 1992. "Docking of Dogs: Practical and Ethical Aspects." Veterinary Record. 131:14, pp. 301-06.

· The National Limb Loss Information Center. Provides extensive research into the effects of amputating limbs.

· Nebergall, S.A. 1999. "How to Perform Surgical Tail Docking in Draft Horses." Proceedings of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. 45, pp. 113-14.

· Patchett, G. 1986. "Tail Docking of Horses." New Zealand Veterinary Journal. 34:3, p. 39.

· Readers. 1995. "Letters: Docking of Puppies' Tails." Veterinary Record. 136:12, pp. 302-03.

· Rollin, B.E. 1999. "Beyond Cruelty." Equus. 265, pp. 64-71.

· Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. 1991. "Firing of Horses Is Declared Unethical." RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) News. May, p. 1.

· RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Australia. "The Issues: Tail Docking."

· RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Victoria. 2007. "Tail Docking Is Now Banned." Referring to the docking of canines, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals asserts that docking is painful and serves no useful purpose. The procedure is opposed by the Australian Veterinary Association as unnecessary and contrary to canine welfare.

· Sandoe, K.C. 2002. "The Case of the 'Docked' Tail." The Draft Horse Journal. Autumn. Sandoe argues in favor of docking. He reviews the states which have anti-docking laws, many of them draft-horse states. Sandoe asserts that banding (placing an elastrator around the tails of foals and causing the tail to drop off due to lack of circulation) does not constitute "docking" or cutting of bone. He dismisses equine behavioral considerations and notes that Iowa and New Jersey have repealed anti-docking laws. Sandoe is a lawyer, is a contributor to the Draft Horse Journal, and exhibits a six-horse hitch.

· Schrader, L., et al. 2001. "Occurrence of Tail Tip Alterations in Fattening Bulls Kept under Different Husbandry Conditions." Animal Welfare. 10:2, pp. 119-30. Effect of weight, season, substrate, docking, on tail tip lesions.

· Sideris, L., C. McCarthy, and D.H. Smith. 1999. "Roots of Concern with Nonhuman Animals in Biomedical Ethics." Institute for Laboratory Animal Research Journal. 40:1, pp. 3-14. 39 refs. Can a policy involving animal welfare be both "politically pragmatic and morally wise"? The article summarises the animal welfare movement as it applies to research animals and also summarizes the conflicting philosophies and practices among radical animal rightists, utilitarianism, holistic conservation, and religious teachings.

· Stafford, K.J., and D.J. Mellor. 1993. "Castration, Tail Docking and Dehorning: What Are the Constraints?" Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production. 53, pp. 189-96.

· Sutton, A. 2003. The Injured Horse. David and Charles. The importance of observing and using the full tail when testing for neurological problems. Notice the illustration on page 32.

· U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Animal Welfare Division. 2002. "A Review of the Scientific Aspects and Veterinary Opinions Relating to Tail Docking in Dogs." U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 35 refs., 14 pp. The review notes that "even docked horses from other countries may not be landed in the U.K. without specific permission." It also summarizes the veterinary profession's objections to docking of cattle, and that docking in the case of pigs reflects "inappropriate management systems."

· Wells, E., and A. Grimshaw. 1989. The Annotated Black Beauty. J.A. Allen. Docking and tools are illustrated on pages 80 and 83.

· Williams, J., and S. Dyson. 1996. "Management of a Recumbent Horse." In: A Guide to the Management of Emergencies at Equine Competitions, S. Dyson, ed., British Veterinary Association, p. 59. The full tail of the recumbent horse allows medical and rescue staff a means of giving the horse extra support and maneuverability when helping it to rise.

· Wintzer, H.-J. 1986. Equine Diseases. Paul Parey. Plate 21 shows photos of paralysis of tail, sphincter in cauda equina neuritis, and squamous cell carcinoma on amputated tail of 8-year-old draft mare.

· Working Together for Equines. 1997. "What's Missing Here?" Working Together for Equines Newsletter. 8:1, pp. 6-7. Discusses cosmetic amputation, firing, and mutilations as a cultural "ethic" and as tradition. Offers reasons for insensitivity and why dependence on animal-welfare aid in underdeveloped countries contributes to welfare abuses.

Search The Infography
Advanced Search

   Page Through The Infography Alphabetically   
Horn -- Players
   Horses -- Tail Amputation (Docking)
Horticulture -- Herbaceous Perennials

About The Infography
published by Fields of Knowledge

Clicking this button will display the HTML code.

"The Infography about Amputation of Horses' Tails (Docking)"
© 2009 Fields of Knowledge
Essex, Iowa 51638-4608 USA