Removing burrs from your horse’s mane or tail

After a long trail ride, or a long, wet spring without much riding. I often find one of my horses has found the motherload of burs, rolled in them, scratched up against them, or whatever magic they do to collect em’ all. Getting them out of a mane or tail can be a long and frustrating ordeal, but with these tools and tips, we should find the task to be that much easier.

In order to remove burrs from your horse’s mane or tail, try using a burr brush and some conditioner to release the hooks of the burrs. Work your way from the bottom up while separating groups of hair so that each burr has less and less to grab onto.

Use a Burr Brush

It took me an unreasonable amount of time to learn this the hard way. Perhaps I’m just insane but I have broken countless brushes and spent countless hours trying to remove burs from my horse’s mane with a curry comb, dollar store hairbrush, or mane and tail comb.

This job calls for something a little more robust and honestly one of the best products that I have ever used is the weaver burr out brush that I got from Amazon. This thing is made of solid metal and designed to grab the burs from your horse’s mane without ripping out as much hair.

Another alternative that I have used is actually one of my hoof picks. Think of it as a very strong, one tooth comb. You can use this quite effectively on large mats of burrs. Start by working the surrounding hairs away from the clump of burrs and then slowly, but forcefully pull in a downward direction with the pick, this should free some if not all of the clump from the horsehair. Smaller portions will still need to be removed with your hands.

Use a Product or Conditioner

Using a conditioner will dramatically decrease the amount of time that you spend getting burs out of your horse’s mane. But what is safe to use on your horse?

There are tons of commercial products available on the market but if you don’t have any of those you can use, hear me out, WD-40. I learned this trick at a big benefit horse ride my wife and I went to and it works AWESOME. At first, I was a little concerned about the dangers of putting some weird chemicals on my horse’s skin. But after talking with this random stranger, she had been doing this on her horses for almost 15 years and hadn’t seen any ill effects on her horse. This being said wd-40 does say right on the bottle “can cause skin irritation.” Use your best judgment, read the label and decide for yourself.

Perhaps a far safer alternative is to use a grooming oil or baby oil. This works much the same way that wd-40 does in that it works its way in between the fibers of the burr and the hairs of your horse’s mane or tail. Another alternative you likely already have in your home is hair conditioner. The idea of applying these products is to provide a slick surface that the burr cannot hook into.

How to make your own conditioner

Making your own mane conditioner for this purpose is actually very easy. Combine the following ingredients into a spray bottle. It is important to keep space within the spray bottle so that you can shake it before each and every use as some of these ingredients won’t want to stay mixed together.

  • 1/3 cup your favorite conditioner.
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil.
  • 2 Cups apple cider vinegar.
  • Water (fill remainder but remember to leave space!)

Spraying this mixture on your horse’s mane will not only help you to remove burs but will provide some added nourishment to the hair. After a few weeks of using this, you will likely see an improvement in sheen and possibly the length of your mane and tail.

Braid your horse’s mane to prevent further infestation

After you have removed all of the burrs from your horse’s mane or tail you might be thinking you will solve this issue once and for all by finding the offending plant and destroying it with swift justice. Just like two teenage lovebirds, your horse will always seem to find them, even if you don’t want them to.

One easy way to help with this inevitable outcome, and make your life a bit easier is to braid your horses main and tail. Most of you are probably better at this than me so I won’t even attempt to show you my horrific excuse of a braid. However, If you do take the time to do this you are helping to compact your horse’s hair, this gives the burrs less to grab onto as your horse does whatever it is that they do when we are not around. Have you ever seen the movieThe Secret Life Of Pets?

Another added benefit, if you’re not as challenged as me, is that you are making your horse look far better AND helping to keep those dastardly tangles out.

There are many different braids to choose from, all with wildly different styles. Below I found an awesome, in-depth video on how to braid a mane.

What do you do with the burrs?

Unfortunately, we can’t just drop them on the ground and leave them where they lay. These plants are a weed, and like any weed, they love to spread outwards.

The burr’s on this plant are actually how the invention of velcro came about. They are able to spread by hooking into animals like your horse and then dropping their seeds wherever they may drop on their free ride.

Given this information, it is very important that you dispose of the burrs. Otherwise, you will likely see some plants crop up near where you removed the burrs form your horse. I’ve heard that one of the best ways is to add them to your next bonfire as the extreme heat kills the seeds inside the burr.

Another alternative is to simply put them in the trash, I’m fairly certain that the bulldozers at the dump do not get slowed by these obnoxious plants; however, I suppose I’ve never worked at a dump so who knows.


Hey! My name is Jeremy. So far I haven't convinced the wife to hop on and write anything so I'm pretty much the only face you'll see. I've been a horse owner now for about 10 years, I bought my first horse while in college for a measly hundred bucks to impress this crazy horse lady that I wanted to date. Turns out we got married, adopted some kids, and kept on with our horse lifestyle.

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