How to detangle a horse’s tail


Detanglers and conditioners can do wonders for your horse’s tail during the grooming process and can help you detangle a horse’s tail.  You will need to balance creating a tangle-free tail with one that doesn’t get so sticky from products that it becomes a dirt magnet. 


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very thick friesian horse tail

This Friesian’s tail needs a lot of help – keeping it tangle-free is a daily process. Products can help.


A tangle-free tail comes from many factors.


  • Clean and dry bedding! Wet and dirty bedding helps create that sticky feeling and contributes to yellow stains and manure patches.
  • Your horse’s overall health also plays a role, leading to natural oils being present. Consider this nature’s detangler, although it takes quite a bit of time for those oils to reach the bottom of the tail, which is why we sometimes use detanglers from a bottle.
  • Good cleaning and conditioning will help. Rinse all products well, and if you must, use a bit of your favorite detangling serum to work in the tail. Chances are you only need to use it on the bottom third of the tail.


  • I have had good luck with applying any detangling serums when the tail is wet. After the tail dries, I will pick it apart and then use a brush from the bottom up. Many folks like to brush the tail when wet, I prefer a damp tail to dry fully before using a brush.


conditioner in a horse's tail

You can use a conditioner on your horse’s tail for maximum softness and slickness.


A few more notes on using detanglers for your horse’s tail


  • Detanglers can sometimes create a super slick coating on your horse’s tail. For this reason, I avoid using them on horse manes, as I don’t want the reins or gloves to become slippery.


  • Sometimes less is more. Adding a bunch of products can create a sticky tail, thus attracting more dirt.
  • A tangle-free tail will fly swat better, look nicer, and also be less likely to catch on things and get pulled out.


magic sheen in white horse tail

Spray detanglers are an option


  • Detanglers may help repel some stains from tails, like urine. On the flip side, they can attract dust and dirt. You may need to experiment.


  • Some brands come in spray form, others in gel form. After applying a gel formula, be sure to wash your hands with soap – otherwise, you will bring the game of “hot potato” to a new level, and get detangler all over yourself and everything you touch.


What types of tail detanglers are out there?


  • Sheen products are usually silicone-based. Some also have tons of additional alcohol, which eventually dries everything out.  Your horse’s hair coat should be soft and conditioned, not crunchy and brittle. 


  • Grooming oils are deep conditioning and detangling in one step. You can use them as a tail hair mask, letting the oils soak in for hours or even overnight. You will likely need a mild shampoo to remove the excess if you use a lot.


  • Conditioners act like they would on your head. You will need to rinse a conditioner out, but you could leave it in for a longer time and rinse it later.


How to detangle a matted tail


  • Your best bet here is a grooming oil.  Coat the matted tail, concentrating on the knots or burrs, and let the grooming oil soak in a bit.  You may want to wait a few minutes before you start to detangle.  


  • Use a wide-tooth mane comb or your fingers to gently pull the hairs apart, one by one if you need to. Work from the bottom up, applying more grooming oil if needed.  It’s going to be messy, but worth it to detangle those matts. 


Add a tail bag


  • If your horse does not need his tail for fly-swatting, use a tail bag to protect the tail.  


  • You could drown the tail in conditioner or grooming oil, them pop a braid into the tail bag to keep dirt away. 


  • Ensure the tail bag is below the tail bone, and check the tail often.  




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