Photos courtesy of Crystal Socha
APHA and AQHA exhibitor, Crystal Socha, and her American Paint Horse, JJS Summer Breeze, are just like any other typical all-around team. However, “Summer” has one title to her credit that no other equine in the world can match. JJS Summer Breeze currently holds the official Guinness World Record for the longest tail on a horse at 381 cm, or 12 feet 6 inches.
Along with her extraordinary locks and good looks, Summer is a registered American Paint Horse and is also registered with the Pinto Horse Association of America.
Crystal Socha and her brother Casey received word August 23, 2007, that Summer had officially broken the record for the World’s longest tail on a horse. They have not received notification since then that her record has been broken, therefore at this time, Summer still holds the title. Although she has held the title since 2007, Summer had not appeared in any of the Guinness World Record books until the most recently released 2010 edition.
“She is currently in the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records, so we are pretty excited,” Socha says. “We just found out last month. They have so many records that there was no guarantee that she would show up in any of the books. After she got the record in 2007, we kept looking in the 2008 and 2009 edition and kind of gave up hope that she would appear in any of the books.”
“Guinness let us know that if someone else were to break the record we would be notified, and if her tail had grown in that time, we could try to re-break the record. It has grown quite a bit since then. When the official record was done it was 12 feet six inches, and now it is 13 and 1/2 feet.”
In order to make the record official, three different “tail measurers” were sent out to confirm the actual length of the tail. A local veterinarian and district judge were among the individuals selected for the task.
“We had to take a lot of pictures and we had to video them measuring her tail. We also took snapshots from a lot of different angles to send in to Guinness. Also, each person who measured the tail had to write up a written account of the event. Everything had to be official.”
Although Summer has been a part of the Socha family barn for the past 14 years, Socha jokes that she still doesn’t know the secret to why her mare’s tail grows so long or so fast. When Summer was a two-year-old, Socha started keeping Summer’s tail wrapped up in a tail bag like any other show horse. However it soon became obvious that a typical tail bag wasn’t going to be able to hold Summer’s Rapunzel-like locks.
“We first started growing her tail because she was going to be a reining horse,” Socha says. “It kept getting really long and we had people suggest that we send her information in to the Guinness World Records. When we sent it in the first time, it was not long enough, so it was a few years before we got the record. We kept growing it and after a few years we tried again.”
“She is 14 now and we have had her since she was four months old. At about the age of two, we started keeping it wrapped up in a tail wrap, but it kept growing and growing until it wouldn’t fit anymore, so we had to start putting it into a sock. I take it down once every 2-3 months, wash and braid it, and wrap it back up again.”
Summer isn’t just another pretty face, she also competes with her owner Socha at local APHA shows in western pleasure and horsemanship. Although you might be thinking that Summer would have an unfair advantage when obtaining rail space with that thirteen foot tail dragging along behind her, due to obvious complications, Socha has to keep Summer’s tail under wraps while in the show pen.
“It takes a long time to braid and fold it all up undernaeath itself,” she says. “It’s both black and white, so she does have a pretty look to her. When we show it has to be wrapped up so it looks like there is a really long dock on her tail. It took a long time to figure out how we were going to be able to show with her tail.”
“We show her in western pleasure and horsemanship, but not too much in reining anymore. I broke her to ride myself and then when it got to the point that she needed to go to an actual trainer, she broke her leg and had to be on stall rest for about a year. We have had several x-rays done and she is fine now, but we don’t like to push her much anymore.”
“Currently I have eight horses and we do a lot in AQHA and APHA local shows. We show in halter, western pleasure, horsemanship, hunt seat, and a little showmanship. We also have other horses just for pleasure and also a few rescue horses.”
Even though Summer lives in a barn full of other show horses, Socha says that Summer definitely knows she is special. If Summer was a person, she would definitely be the one boasting to everyone that she has a Guinness World Record, Socha says.
“The word ‘princess’ pretty well describes Summer,” Socha says. “She is definitely the queen of the barn. She hates water and does not think that she should get her hooves wet. She knows she is something special and has no problem showing off. She is kind of funny that way because she likes to be the center of attention. If she could talk I think she would tell you about her title.”
If you’re looking for a few tips to help your horse’s tail grow as long and luscious as Summer’s, Socha says she relies on the tried and true method of consistent product use and proper hair protection.
“Orvus shampoo is all I use, and I don’t use any conditioner because it makes it too slippery,” she says. “I start at the end of the dock and braid it. Then, I fold it over on itself, put some vet wrap around it and put it into a sock. She doesn’t get any supplements, all she eats is hay and Strategy, and handfuls of treats and carrots.”
“I use a regular comb, not a brush, but I’m not extremely gentle with it. I seem to think that makes the tail stronger. I just comb it like my own hair. It would take forever to use my fingers.”
Click here to view JJS Summer Breeze’s personal Facebook page.
Click here to view the official entry on the Guinness World Record’s website.