We’ve all had to deal with them, the ever present equestrian nightmare … the burr tangled mane and tail. Late summer and early fall brings with it a herd of knotted manes and tails piled deep with the wretched little plants. Owners and grooms can spend hours cleaning them out, only to have another pile of them reappear the following day. We’ve all learned the hard way that there are burrs in our pasture, because even if you can’t see them, your horse somehow manages to find them.
So this week we wanted to take a look at some traditional, and not so traditional, products that help to speed up the burr removal process while minimizing the damage to your horses mane and tail.
Burdock and Cocklebur are the two most common culprits of this seasonal nightmare, and both can be widely found in across many landscapes (especially North America). These spiny little seed pouches may be Mother Nature’s greatest seed spreading invention, but they are also an endless source of frustration for horse owners. They stick in manes, in tails, on coats (I have even found them stuck to the hair on the back of horses’ pasterns), on the fuzzy edges of fly masks, …. they are everywhere.
Here are three products to help you with removing burrs, some are tried and true, and one of them is just plain interesting.
Equine Coat Conditioner/coat shining spray
While there are a variety of different brands of spray out there, our two favourites have to be Fiebing’s Satin Sheen, or Absorbine’s ShowSheen. Both products are traditionally marketed as a detangler and dirt/dust repellent, but these sprays also do double duty as an extremely efficient burr remover. Just spray an ample amount over the burr tangled area of the mane or tail, give it a moment or two to soak in, and before you know you’ll be able to pull those burrs (whole) right out of your horses hair. With minimal hair loss of course. As an added plus, both these sprays will leave your horses hair nice and shiny.
In our experience both Absorbine and Fiebing’s sprays work well, so the one you choose to equip your grooming kit with is a matter of personal choice. Fiebing’s Satin Sheen tends to run cheaper when compared to Absorbine.
For more information:
Avon’s Skin So Soft Bath Oil
This human product is a great tool for removing pesky burrs from manes and tails. Marketed as skin softener and conditioner for humans, this product can make your horse happy too. Pour the bath oil into a bottle and spritz the trouble areas as needed, wait for it to soak in, and then carefully brush or pull the whole burrs out by hand.
Skin so Soft is not as greasy as baby oil can be (which is another common burr removal product), and as an added plus it will leave your horses hair (and your hands!) silky and smooth. The primary ingredient in this Avon product is mineral oil and generally runs for around $13 for a bottle, or $6 for a small bottle of Bath oil spray.
Depending on the sensitivity of your horse to certain products, you may want to dilute this product with water prior to using. If you are at all concerned, test the product on a small area on your horse;s coat to ensure no allergic reaction occurs. Like all things, using it in moderation is always your safest bet.
It’s the product that has a million uses, and we’ve got one more … burr removal. While I’ve never tried this one for myself, I’ve heard about being used a fair bit. Spray a little of that wonder product on the burrs, let it soak in, and then simply slide those burrs right on out. No scissor or hair ripping necessary.
The pinpoint accuracy of the nozzle is definitely a plus, and it operates on the same principles of many of the other products we’ve listed. My only concern would be that you’d have to use it very sparingly, and make sure to wash it out after the burrs are removed. WD-40 is a much more industrial product, and while it boasts many uses, unlike traditional equine coat conditioners/coat shining spray and made for human oils and bath products, it’s not made expressly for use on hair/skin. Thus you wouldn’t want to leave it on manes/tails after its served its purpose.
In general, the most effective burr removal tools are strong detanglers, conditioners, or oil based products that will make your horse’s hair slick enough that the spiny burrs lose their hold.
Happy Burr Removal!
Do you know of any quirky burr removal products? Share your thoughts, we’d love to hear them!