Why do Arabian Horses Raise Their Tails?

The Arabian horse is among the most famous and the oldest breed in the world, with its origins dating back 3.000 years to 5.000 years by some accounts. If you plan on getting one, you need to know that this breed differs from other horse breeds in several aspects. One of them is the signature tail raise, giving it that photogenic, unmistakable look.

There are many reasons for the Arabian’s tail raise, which can vary from one horse to the next. They sometimes do it as excitement since horses use their tails to communicate their state of mind. The same gesture can also be a sign of fear or distress. This is even more obvious when paired with other signs like enlarged eyes, alert ears, body shakiness, etc.

There’s also the physical aspect to take into account here. Arabian horses miss one vertebrae, making them shorter than other breeds. Combine this with the flat croupe and you get a horse with a natural ability to raise its tail easier than other breeds.

How to Make Your Horse Keeping Its Tail Up?

The training technique you’ve been looking for is called tailing. Tailing refers to holding the horse’s tail while running at a steady pace. Granted, tailing hasn’t been designed to teach horses how to keep their tails up, but it can have that effect.

Tailing has several noticeable benefits, including:

  • Rearranges the horse’s posture – Tailing teaches the horse to keep its back straight and rearrange its spine position. This will reduce the physical stress during high-speed racing and minimize fatigue.
  • Boost endurance – The horse carrying the rider forces it to conserve its energy more efficiently. The tail pull contributes to that effect since the horse now needs to deal with another force acting upon its body.
  • It teaches tail raise – The horse will get used to walking and running with its tail slightly raised. The more tailing training, the more visible the effect will be. This is even easier to achieve with Arabian horses who already have a born predisposition towards tail raises.
  • Physical training for the runner – As a tail holder, you will also get your fair share of running. Typically, you will need to run twice as fast as if you were without holding the tail. It’s good exercise for both you and the horse.
  • Helps build trust – Horses will react differently when having their tails held or pulled. Most will accept it, but others will not. If your horse shows signs of aggression or discomfort when pulling its tail, stop what you’re doing, or the horse will.

While tailing isn’t explicitly designed to train horses into keeping their tails up, it can have that effect. If you own an Arabian, speak to a trainer about tailing and its effects.

Do Other Horse Breeds Keep Their Tails Up?

All of them. The tail’s position isn’t necessary a unique characteristic, only specific to Arabian horses. All horses flail, swing, and raise their tails. The difference is that the Arabian does it more often and more naturally due to its physical setup.

The Arabian horse is missing vertebrae and a rib, making it more compact and shorter than other breeds. It’s also what gives the horse its legendary endurance and stamina.

This unique particularity makes it easier for the Arabian to raise its tail during gaiting or standing. But, in reality, the rail raise always signifies something. It usually means excitement or joy, and the horse will more often raise it when engaging in pleasant activities. Many horses will also raise it when spotting their handlers coming to greet them.

In other cases, the horse may show fear or distress and uses its tail to signal that to other horses.

Do Arabian Horses Hold Their Tail Up When Angry?

Generally not. Horses will, however, swing their tails back and forth when irritated or annoyed. In general, interpreting tail swings isn’t an exact science since they can be doing it for various reasons, including insect repellent.

To know whether a horse is angry, you need more than assessing the tail’s movements. When angry, the horse will swish its tail, pin its ears to its neck, pull the head back, and tighten the muzzle. This behavior isn’t unique to Arabian horses but to all of them.

Why Horse Tail is Raised or Held Off to One Side?

A raised tail isn’t necessarily a reason for concern so long as it’s not exaggerated, lasts for too long, or is off to a side. If you see your horse keeping its tail abnormally to one side for longer periods, you should look into the matter.

A veterinary check-up might be necessary since the behavior may be linked to chronic conditions, abdominal pain, or injuries to or around the tail. If the horse has an injury around the anus or the lower portion of the tail, it will keep its tail up to alleviate the pain.


While all horses move their tails and raise them occasionally, only the Arabian makes the gesture appear noble and uplifting. That’s because the modern Arabian horse comes from war horses bred for their nobility, fiery spirit, and outstanding physical characteristics.

The tail raise exudes pride, power, and a unique volcanic temperament to the Arabian horse. It is a sign of dominance that you should cherish and appreciate.

Don’t take it for granted, however. If your horse keeps its tail in abnormal positions, speak to your vet to prevent injuries and health problems

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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