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Hi! I have a bit a back story before I get to the real issue. My nieghbor's friend gifted us an 11 yo Rocky Mountain mare about 2.5 months ago. She's shy and stubborn - but coming around nicely. They said she was trained well until about 3 years ago when she became basically a pasture ornament and got no attention at all.

This past weekend we worked up to hooking a lead rope on her. To my surprise, she stood perfectly still while on a lead. So, I took the opportunity to begin working on her mane. I got all the knots out of the mane and forelock and she cleaned up beautifully.

Then, I moved around to her tail. Yuck! Pretty much the whole tail, minus about 4" at the top, 4" at the bottom is one giant mat. We're talking 3-4" diameter and about 3' long. What do I do?? I bought some Cowboy Magic conditioner/detangler but I don't know if even there's enough magic in the tube to help.

How long should I expect to work on a mat that size? If I can only get some combed out in weekend, will it be ok to wait until the next weekend to work on it again? What's the best type of comb to use for this type of project?
 

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If you want to save as much of the tail as possible, DO NOT use any comb or brush. Get some Show Sheen or something like that and spray it on. Use your fingers, starting from the bottom, to slowly separate the hairs working your way up. If you're not interested in saving as much hair as possible, you can try using a comb, or my favorite, an Oster tail brush, but with a knot that size you're likely to break a comb or brush. Let us know how it goes.

PS It might take a few hours or a few days, depending on how much hair you want to save.
 

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Human hair detangler works nicely as well. Try working on just bits at a time, working from the bottom up. One of my geldings had a tail with mats in it as well. I ended up cutting them out because I am not very patient, and he still had tail left to swat the flies. :wink:


In the dog grooming world, there is something called a mat splitter. It basically cuts vertical lines in a mat, helping you to detangle it (using scissors in a vertical manner (careful of the tail bone!) on the mat would have the same effect). It would most likely make your horse have a sparse tail, but it might get the job done a bit quicker.
 

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Honestly I would just cut it out right to the skin. It will grow back.
 

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Honestly I would just cut it out right to the skin. It will grow back.
Yeah thats the lazy unnessesary answer. Show sheen is your friend. Use your fingers or a brush. Just start at the bottum and work your way up.
 

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I would get a bucket and fill it with warm water and a load of Mane N Tail conditioner. Soak it for 15 minutes then put a lot more of the mane n tail on it. work from the bottom to the top picking it with your fingers. add more mane n tail as you get closer to the top to loosen the knot. then after you are done rinse the tail!
 

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I would get a bucket and fill it with warm water and a load of Mane N Tail conditioner. Soak it for 15 minutes then put a lot more of the mane n tail on it. work from the bottom to the top picking it with your fingers. add more mane n tail as you get closer to the top to loosen the knot. then after you are done rinse the tail!
That sounds like a very good idea. I think I like this one the best, and you damage too much hair!
 

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Another good one I have used which sounds goofy is WD-40 and work it our with your hands slowly
 

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I had a MFT filly I rescued that had a knot of a tail and I thought for sure I would have to cut part of it. I only ran my pocket knife through it once and I was surprised how well the Cowboy Magic detangler works..It also leaves it soft..I have used Show sheen for years but it hasn't anything on the Cowboy Magic as far as getting bad knots out....
 

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Depends how tight the matting is. Photo would be helpful. Draftriders suggestion of just chopping the hair right back may well be the only solution if the matting is severe.

If it's not impossible matting though, I would DROWN it in a good conditioner. So wet it, the load the conditioner in, rub it in as much as you possibly can. Leave it to sit in her tail for a day, then rinse out, and repeat for as long as it takes. Loading it with products such as show sheen is ok but if it is genuine matting taking up all of the tail. it will cost you a fortune and take a lot of time to get it out using specialised products.

The drowning it in conditioner will help to break down the bulk of the matting, and THEN you can start with the show sheen etc. baby oil is also a good one to use in place of the mega expensive products.
 

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On our show calf, we mix 1/4 armor all with 3/4 water. Works just like Kleen Sheen. Are there any homemade mixes like that that are safe on horses?
 

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Sometimes something REALLY slippery/oily will work like baby oil, olive oil or my favorite Neutragena body oil.....I would just coat the part you are currently working on starting at the bottom an then work up the tail. If you have one of those combs with a pick, gently use the "pick" part to help loosen the mat, then finish by pulling your finger through. Don't use the pick/comb the whole way or you will break off the hairs.
 

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I have had a few rescues I have taken in with this problem. The things I found that work best are: as already stated wd-40 and Pam. Load that knot up and go to work with fingers first. Get out what you can with them... then start trying to brush. Always work from the bottom up.
 

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One of the horses we bought had this we washed and condititoned it every day for a week to soften the hair. THen stuck a thin kitchen scewer into the mat starting at the bottom to lossen it then worrk up the tail using your fingers.
 

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I like cowboy magic, you can get it in a gel that works really well. Start at the bottom and work your way up, take a few days to do it and take your time. When it's all out then bruch it really nice and keep up on it.
 

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I have a Belgian mare that had a very matted tail when I first got her. I just worked on it one afternoon with some Pantene contitioner (it was all I had) and a wide tooth comb. I wasn't concerned about trying to save all the hair as she is not a show horse, I just wanted the mat gone. I worked and worked until she was tired of standing and my arms felt like they were going to fall off but she went from this


To this

(that giant white mass under the date is actually all the broken hair that I combed out).

Almost any mat can be picked out of the tail, it is all just a matter of how much time and work you want to put into it. It took about 3 solid hours of work with no breaks to get the mat out of Bessie's tail. Basically anything that makes the hair slick will work; conditioner, baby oil, WD-40, and any of those more expensive options like cowboy magic and show sheen. I personally prefer baby oil cause those big bottles are about 98 cents at Wal-Mart.
 

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Cowboy Magic is awesome, and it sure does the job, but for major monster sized tangles, baby oil is the way to go - it works, slicks it up really good, and you can't get much cheaper than baby oil.
 

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Honestly I would just cut it out right to the skin. It will grow back.
Instead of creating a new threat, I'll just ask on this one. Same topic. :)

Would you recommend cutting off the forelock? Cerra's got this terrible 'do right now.. granted, she was a matted clay mess when I got her and the hair was in her eyes.. but now it's flipped up and tangled shut with burrs!!

No image avaliable: picture 1960's Greaser style hair on a little bay.

I would attempt to pick it apart but it's one huge clump now. And there's ALOT of burrs. Plus, I don't think she'd have the patience for an uber-groom session.

Sorry/Thanks OP! :)
 

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ButterfliEterna, for you, I think it is kindof a judgement call. If it doesn't really matter to you what your horse looks like, then I would probably cut it off (especially if it is unlikely the horse will stand for such a long session). But keep in mind that the forelock takes forever to grow back out and will sometimes grow back thinner or thicker than it was before, depending on the horse. However, if you don't want to cut it off, maybe just take 20 or 30 minutes a day to work on it instead of one sitting of several hours and keep it doused with baby oil or something all the time. The moister the burrs stay, the quicker they will deteriorate and that makes picking them out much easier.
 

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Instead of creating a new threat, I'll just ask on this one. Same topic. :)

Would you recommend cutting off the forelock? Cerra's got this terrible 'do right now.. granted, she was a matted clay mess when I got her and the hair was in her eyes.. but now it's flipped up and tangled shut with burrs!!

No image avaliable: picture 1960's Greaser style hair on a little bay.

I would attempt to pick it apart but it's one huge clump now. And there's ALOT of burrs. Plus, I don't think she'd have the patience for an uber-groom session.

Sorry/Thanks OP! :)
If you can do a few shorter sessions to get it out then that might work. I usually get a de-tangler of some sort (show sheen, cowboy magic, etc.) and a metal grooming comb (not sure if that's what it's called). If you have the comb it cuts the time in half for taking burrs out!!

If that won't work then I would suggest cutting it, at least short enough so it can't get in her eyes. The problem with burrs in the forelock is that they can scratch the horses eye and you can get bits of burr stuck in the eye wich can cause some pretty bad damage.
 
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