What is it about horses and burrs? If there is a burdock bush in the pasture, your horses will find it and soon become well covered with those Velcro-like seed pods. When feed time rolls around, your horses will meet you at the gate sporting a tangled mess between their ears, down their neck, and between their hind legs. Where is that beautiful mane and tail you spent hours detangling the other day? How will you ever get all those burrs out?
Let the detangling begin
The first thing you need to do is put down the scissors and unplug the clippers, because you won’t need them. Instead, head for the pantry or bathroom and find some cooking spray or baby oil. Show sheen or other slippery conditioners will also work if you have them on hand. Spray or soak the affected mass of mane or tail liberally and let it stand for a few minutes. Some people like to put on a pair of leather gloves when they are removing burrs to protect their fingers from being pricked. If you have a huge mass of burrs, grasp it between your hands and rub it back and forth, like you were warming your hands on a cold day. This will help break up the burrs. Then with your fingers start to detangle the hairs and wiggle the burrs free. Work from the bottom up. Once you get the first few out the rest will be much more willing to follow.
Resist the desire to attack the offending mass with a comb or brush, as such action rips and breaks the hair, leaving you with a mess. When all the offending burrs are gone, gently brush out the hair to remove any last tangles and bits of plant material. Wash and condition as needed.
A little pre-planning goes a long way
During burr season keep your horse’s mane and tail clean and apply conditioner often. The conditioner will make the hairs more slippery and less likely to hold the burrs. Tails can be braided and put in a tail bag. In late summer and early fall when the burrs are getting ready to set seed, walk around the pasture and lop off the tops of the plants. Collect them in a bucket or bag and toss them out in the trash so they don’t reseed. Don’t put them in the spreader or compost pile, unless you want to grow more burdock plants next year!