Attack of the Pasture Burrs
 By Winniefield Park   •   4th Dec 2016   •   1,596 views   •   1 comments

Now that the grass has died back horses are more likely to forage for tasty nibbles in places they might not normally look. As they hunt amongst the tall weeds that shelter the more tender grasses, there is a good chance they might come out with a few burrs attached. You might send your horse out to its pasture with a flowing mane and tail, and find it the next morning sporting a picky punk-type updo thanks to a crop of burdock plants.

Burrs are mother natureís way of making sure that there are more burdock plants. There are several types of burrs, but the most well-known is the common burdock. The picky burdock globes hitch a ride on any hairy surface they can; you horseís hair, your hair, your dog or cat or knitted sweater. And, the pickers are very effective. When they get caught, they donít just fall out but need to be ripped out. This can make a real mess of manes and tails.

If your horse only has a few burrs, itís easy to pull them out with your fingers and throw them in the garbage. But, if your horse has a large mat of burrs, you will have a little more work ahead of you. Before you dig in, you may want a few supplies that will make the job a little easier. I like to wear well fitting garden gloves. Latex gloves tend to be too thin, and the ones people use for washing dishes and household chores tend to be too floppy. Gloves help protect your fingers from being irritated by the pickers.

Mineral oil, food grade oil, or a detangling grooming spray will help make the mane or tail hairs a little more slippery. And a wide tooth comb will help finish off the job without breaking too many hairs in the process.

As you would when combing smooth a tangled tail, start working from the bottom of the mess. Start pulling out the burrs - which will probably break apart, working in your oil or detangler if you need it. Donít be afraid to really soak the burrs, as this will make them break apart easier. Keep working your way up the mat, smoothing the hair as you go. As you work, put the burrs in the garbage. And when youíre done sweep up and put the floor sweepings in the garbage too. The torn out burrs should be disposed of so they donít accomplish their mission of planting themselves and growing more burrs.

If you donít want to repeat the burr removal process next year, youíll have to attack the burr producing plants themselves. Common burdock is a biennial plant, meaning the first year it grows it wonít produce seeds. If you just hack it down it will just sprout again next year. Of course, you can use chemical warfare against burrs, but this is risky around horses and not good for the environment. Less harmful is to cut down the plants.

There are two stages at which you can actually kill the plant: when it first pokes a few leaves up in the spring, and just after it goes into flower, but before the actual picky burrs form later in the summer. Early in the spring, use a sharp hoe or spade to chop into the stems of the emerging plants. As the plant matures use a sharp hoe or weed cutter to lop the plant off when it's in flower. Really thick, woody plants might even require a hatchet to cut through. You may need to do this a few years in a row since there will be many seeds lying around waiting to germinate. But, a few hours eradicating your current burdock crop can save you a lot of time and frustration in the future.

Do you have tips or tricks for pulling burrs, or getting rid of the plants/
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
no longer need barn
To dispose of them we put them on the muck heap and to get them out I use lots and lots of Flydangle spray (a mixture of 5 parts fly spray and 5 parts detangle spray.

Any other oily substance will work aswell even water will help. But I've never tried WD40 before.

Many people use baby oil and water mixtures as well as sunflower oil which probably isn't that great but it works.

DO NOT buy special 'bur-releasing' products they are a waste of money and you don't need them if you have got fly spray, water, detangle spray, and baby oil or WD40 around.
Hope this helps, TC
  Dec 4, 2016  •  1,609 views
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