Spring may be sprung – but sometimes its quite hard to un stick your horses hair!
Alas, when it comes to helping a horse lose his winter coat there are no magical short cuts, and the only thing Horse Scout Blogger can offer – that is guaranteed to work is:
Daily grooming and an application of good old-fashioned elbow grease!
To make things a little less scary but no less hairy:
- Grooming after exercise when the horse is warm and the pores of the skin are more open is much easier and the coat will shed more quickly.
- Use a rubber curry comb, a dandy brush and/or a grooming mitt to remove dead hair then go over the coat with a body brush to help massage the skin and stimulate the oil glands.
- To help protect your clothing try wearing overalls and if you have an allergy it is advisable to wear a disposable paper mask (readily available in supermarkets and chemists).
- On a good note, there is nothing more satisfying or calorie busting than a vigorous grooming session that ends with the emergence of a sleek, smart horse. Welcome to spring!
After such a long, cold winter riders have been looking forward to the spring and summer so that we can get out and enjoy our horses more. However, with the onset of longer daylight hours and warmer weather comes the inevitable shedding of winter coats and many of us disappearing in a haze of loose hair and dandruff every time we groom! It’s funny how the horse ends up looking smart but we end up coughing and spluttering and covered in hair.
Like many animals, horses grow a thick winter coat to help protect them against cold weather. The long, fluffy winter coat stands up and traps pockets of air to create an insulating layer and retain the heat. It is common for a horse, particularly bays to appear to change coat colour in the spring and summer. Some bay horses have an undercoat that is almost black and others appear to have a lighter summer coat.
Several elements trigger hair growth and shedding and these include environmental, nutritional and hormonal factors. The longer, warmer days of spring help to stimulate the loss of the winter coat.
Failure to lose the winter coat can be related to several different factors including a hormone imbalance. Older horses can often develop a condition known as Cushing’s disease, or Cushing’s syndrome, which affects the adrenal glands and requires veterinary diagnosis and medication. Horses that do not shed their coats may need to in order to keep them comfortable in warm weather.
Parasites can deplete a horse of necessary nutrients and affect the coat, and so implementing a regular and up-to-date worming routine is vital. Adding a daily dose of vegetable or linseed oil to the horse’s feed may help to promote a shinier coat and speed up the shedding process.
You may notice that your horse rolls more or rubs against trees or fences to help work the old hair loose. A sweating horse becomes very itchy and uncomfortable and so grooming is very important, but excessive dandruff or greasy skin, can indicate other problems so check the skin and hair for signs of lice or skin disease.