An 1811 dictionary states: "to feague a horse is to put ginger up a horse’s fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel, to make him lively and carry his tail well. It is said, a forfeit is incurred by any horse-dealer’s servant, who shall show a horse without first feaguing him." Ginger is an irritant, and when administered to a horse, the horse will carry its tail high and generally act somewhat restless and more lively. In the past, the purpose was often to make an older horse behave like one that was younger, or to temporarily liven up a sick or weakened animal.
Today this practice still occurs, now called gingering the tail or simply gingering. Most often, it is done with a paste product with concentrated Gingerol. Today the purpose is mostly to make the horse carry its tail high, and to a lesser extent to encourage the horse to move in a lively fashion. It is a particular problem for the halter horses in the Arabian and American Saddlebred breeds, where high tail carriage and animation are desired traits. However, nearly all horse show sanctioning organizations in the USA explicitly forbid it and have the authority to disqualify a horse treated in this way. While some areas may be less than rigorous about enforcing the rule, tests such as "ginger swabbing" may be done to detect the presence of ginger in the anus. While it is not entirely reliable, concerns of being detected by anal tests has led to some horse handlers placing the raw ginger in the vagina when the horse is a mare. A modern veterinary dictionary notes that vaginal placement is more effective than anal insertion, because the ginger is likely to remain in place longer, and concludes gingering "would be considered to be an act of cruelty in any civilized community."
- Ogilvie, John. Imperial Dictionary of the English Language, 1883. p. 272
- The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
- This Practice Is Abhorrent, September 21, 2007, Straight Egyptians.com
- Gingering in the Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary, 2007 edition, by D.C. Blood, V.P. Studdert and C.C. Gay; published by Elsevier. Accessed online via Answers.Com.
- Feague definition with etymology at Wiktionary.