California Riding Magazine • November, 2011

Spicy Tails ~
Custom Tail Extensions and Satchels
Gorgeous tails complete a natural picture.

The Grand Prix show jumper All Spice, aka "Spicy," has been flaunting her gorgeous tail around the Northern California show circuit for some time now. Everybody wants one just like it: full, long, shiny, vibrant and varied in color. Not everybody is born with such a tail, but thanks to the company Spicy inspired, Spicy Tails, every horse can have an exquisite, handmade tail extension that rivals the best nature has to offer.

Spicy lives at Los Lagos Equestrian Center in the Sacramento area's Granite Bay. That's where she inspired trainer Carrie Orcutt and amateur competitor Ginny Cattaneo to start Spicy Tails in March of this year. The hunter/jumper circuit campaigners were also inspired by a perceived niche in the market. "We would either see horses without tail extensions or horses with extensions that were badly matched in color or didn't look natural."

There was a lot of research to be done before designing their first extension. As hunter/jumper veterans, Ginny and Carrie knew that top braiders were the best place to start their homework. "We interviewed A circuit braiders to find out what they like in terms of how to build a tail, what held up well over time, durability and, most importantly, they helped us make a tail that moved naturally with the horse. That was our biggest requirement."

Next up was finding consistent suppliers of the top quality horse hair Spicy Tails are made of.

With those missions accomplished, Spicy Tails hit the horse shows with examples of its custom made tails. Tail extensions have been used on the Quarter Horse, Paint and other breed circuits for many years, but they are relatively new in the hunter/jumper world. Thanks to their own experience, Ginny and Carrie knew that fellow hunter/jumpers would insist on a tail that "looks natural, elegant and that enhances the look of their horse."

Getting the color right is the biggest key to a natural looking tail, Ginny explains. "A tail is almost like a finger print. If you take a horse out in the sunlight and really look at his tail, you'll see that it's a really beautiful spectrum of colors. We find the challenge of matching a tail perfectly exciting and we have a passion for it."

Spicy Tails' business model is built around meeting customers' horses in person whenever possible. They are out at shows and happy to make barn visits throughout most of Northern California. "Each tail is so unique and I love the process of getting in there and blending it by hand," Ginny explains. "I've made white tails into which I've blended black hairs to get the color just right. You could say I'm a little obsessed with it!"

When they can't meet a horse in person, the Spicy Tails crew can still produce a perfect tail by working from samples, photos and asking the owners questions.

In addition to custom colors, weights and lengths, Spicy Tails prides itself on quick turnarounds. "During the show season, when somebody wants to solve their horse's tail problem, they want to solve it immediately!"

Each custom-made Spicy Tail comes with easy-to-follow instructions on how to attach it securely. In many cases, a professional braider will attach the tail while braiding, but that level of expertise is not needed. They are made to be taken out at night during the show, for the horse's comfort and to preserve the tails.

In addition to custom-made Tails, Spicy Tails offers "Tails Gone Wild," a line of extensions in bold, fun, crazy colors. They are perfect for horses competing in the jumper division or at unrated shows
where rules don't restrict such adornments.

Ginny reports that most of Spicy Tails growing clientele are horses who simply weren't born with beautiful tails, but in some cases they may have lost part of their tail in pasture play or another mishap.
"We all spend a lot of time training our horses and preparing to show," Ginny concludes. "A Spicy Tail extension enhances all those efforts and provides a great finishing touch. You can literally make a horse go from looking like a $70,000 horse to a $100,000 horse. It completes the overall beautiful picture in a natural way."

For more information on Spicy Tails, visit www.spicytails.com or call 916-718-6554 or 916-759-2153.