Detangling a Matted Mane

This is a mildly matted mane, something we have all probably seen before.  The most typical kind of mane mat I see on a horse is where two or more sections twist themselves together usually forming some type of dreadlock towards the bottom of the mane. This horse is a BLM mustang who has spent at least a year with no grooming. His mane has gotten all matted up and this series of photos shows you step by step how I detangled it!


  • Stiff comb
  • Detangling Agent

OK so you were probably looking for a really detailed list or a product recommendation right? There are a few detangling products on the market I really like but in reality, I didn’t have any of those on hand. So I used what I had and you can too! I had on hand some coconut oil and regular human conditioner and an unused spray bottle. I also used my dogs grooming rake and a paddle brush for the final brush through. There is no reason to wait to go to the tack store or buy fancy stuff. This type of mat is easy enough to get out.


  1. Figure out where the biggest part of the mat stops and starts, like I mentioned most of the time the mat will be worse at the top then at the bottom. Here you can see that the mat is in two sections at the top and combines to one section at the bottom.

  2. Add your detangling products. I started by adding coconut oil. It was cold so mine was not liquid. I probably should keep it in the house during winter :D. I also mixed conditioner and water. I used approximately 25% conditioner.
  3. Work this through and start detangling the mane from the bottom up. I use my firm comb to pick the hairs apart, sometimes one by one.
  4. Keeping in mind that a mat of this type is typically formed by strands of hair twisting together, you will sometimes have hair sections looped in together. Keep an eye out for them so you can unravel these knots with your fingers.
  5. At this point I have detangled most of the mat and you can now see the separate strands that had twisted together to form the mat.
  6. At this point it really is just as simple as starting from the bottom and working your way up.
  7. All detangled!
  8. I find that horses that get this type of twisted mat once will typically get it pretty regularly, so I like to keep their manes braided. It is amazing how some horses have manes that won’t really mat up at all and others seem like they mat if you don’t brush them every day!

Note: You can see this horse is wearing a bridle in some of these photos. He was getting used to wearing a bit. At no time was he tied with his bridle on.

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