How to Detangle a Dread Locked Tail

I wish I had pictures of this…

Nero, one of my two horses, has a mane and tail that would be, if kept maintained, to die for. Thick, long, black! It could be beautiful!

Unfortunately, when he first arrived with us, he had been quite neglected. And his mane and tail were the least of it… so, we fed him and cut out the knots and lobbed his tail off to clean it up.

And since he doesn’t get ridden, I don’t groom him routinely, and every once in a while, I notice how bad his tail has gotten – again. And so I go and cut it off to cut out the dread locks – again.

After last weekend’s Pony Day, and with Friday’s Surprise Day Off, I decided I would tackle that tail so it could grow and look brilliant! I gave myself two hours. It really looked like a huge job!

I started trying to brush it out, but the dread locks had merged together into one giant dread lock that was as thick as my calf, and nearly as solid!An ordinary brush just wasn’t going to work.

I started thinking about “No More Tears” and baby shampoo and kids detanglers and other options. But I didn’t have any of those things.

What I did have was a big 20 Litre jug of Rice Bran Oil that I usually add to the horses feed. I figured that if it’s good for their coats when they eat it, it probably won’t be too bad for the tail if applied directly!

At first I tried putting a little in the palm of my hand and massaging it in, but that was a big fail. In the end I poured a glump of oil right onto a mat, and then used my fingers to pull the mat apart. When I got to a new dry layer, I poured more on, and so on and so forth, until I could pull my fingers through most of his tail! Incredibly, as I was working my way through the layers, I was finding twigs and leaves and string and all sorts of rubbish locked into the mess, just adding to the problem! Shame on me for letting it get so bad!

But by the end of this process his tail was looking so shiny that I was tempted to just leave it like that, but then realised that an oily tail is just asking for pests and dirt to collect in it.

So it was time to wash it. Nero didn’t mind the wash and wax one bit! It was a nice warm day and he loves playing with the garden hose. He likes to suck water straight out of the hose! It’s so cute! And in the summer will come and stand under a spray of water to cool off! He’s a real water baby!

It took a LOT of soap to get it cleaned up, but then again, he has a LOT of tail hair! I rinsed and rinsed and then used a lot more of my conditioner than I would have liked (hey, that stuff is pricey!) to keep it nice and tangle-free. I think it might be time to invest in some equine-specific grooming products!

After the wash and condition, I was able to brush his tail out with a regular brush, all the way through! It looked so good! And it only took 45 minutes, not the 2 hours I had planned!

Mission Accomplished!!

I let him go and he immediately rolled and made a terrible muddy mess of himself, but that’s alright! His tail is looking great and tangle free, and hopefully will grow out beautifully, and maybe I’ll never have to cut it again!


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