How To Untangle or Remove Burrs from a Horse’s Mane

I never thought this was a super daunting subject before I started teaching but, to my surprise it is an enigma to most people. It has happened many times since I started teaching almost 5 years ago, where a student who is fairly well adept comes in from catching their lesson horse, only to come to me dismayed.

Saying that their horse has a bunch of burrs, or a large tangle in their mane or tail. In the beginning I would always say « There is detangler spray and a brush hanging in the tack room, knock yourself out! » and every time my comment was met with a blank stare, an « ummm » and the sheepish admittance that they did not know how.

Up until then I never thought it was something that needed teaching, I mean most of my students are girls and women, and most have long hair, surly they know how to untangle a knot. But it occurred to me later on, that you never encounter such horrible knots in human hair unless it goes unbrushed for weeks on end.

Slowly untwist, flip and untie the knots from the bottom with your fingers.

A horse’s mane and tail, – because of it’s exposure to the wind, and strength and thickness – is very prone to having large tangles that can seem daunting to un-do. With a little patience, and couple of tricks and hopefully a fairly forgiving horse they can be undone in a jiffy. Same goes for burrs, even if they are completely immersed in the horse’s hair, it can be done without cutting.

If you don’t have time, or if you have a very impatient horse that just will NOT stand still for the process you can just cut the knot out, but just keep in mind a horse’s mane and tail are not just for decoration, they serve a function, and that is protecting the horse from the elements and bugs. It’s ok if they are going to be missing a little chunk for awhile while it grows back, but if your only excuse is not having time, find it. You are a horse owner, and that comes with a fair amount of responsibility.

First run your fingers through the hairs
  1. Coat in detangler. There are a million and one mane and tail detangles out there, so preference plays a big role. Anything from baby oil, to ShowSheen can work. You just need something that will allow the hairs to slip a little, and allow you to undo the knots.
  2. Pick apart the knots from the bottom up. Slowly untwist, flip and untie the knots from the bottom with your fingers.
  3. Finger comb. After the knots are mostly separated, they will still be kinked, a little twisted and prone to tangle. First run your fingers through the hairs, and work a little extra detangler into the area.
  4. Brush. Finally brush the whole mane or tail out with a hair brush or comb. Making sure there are no more kinked hairs, or pieces of burr left.

Voila! Done. It may have taken you 5 hours, and your fingers are now bleeding but cha did it! Ok I am exaggerating a fair bit, but it could take a fair amount of time, so plan to be out there for a little while!

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