For many of in the US, spring marks the beginning of a season not listed in any calendar: HORSE SHEDDING SEASON!
‘Tis the season of leaving the Chap-Stick at home (lest you want hairy lips while grooming) and swapping the fleece vest for a slicker model that lets you brush off hair.
How do we help our horse to shed?
What happens in the horse’s body during shedding time?
Shedding an old coat and growing a new one – whether in spring or fall – goes beyond really hairy brushes… and getting out the shedding blade. Your horse’s body has to work hard to produce several pounds of hair (meaning proteins)! This is an incredible metabolic challenge and requires more than a thorough brushing.
NOTE: Horses that lack proper nutrition, have health issues, or Cushing’s Disease are slower to shed out and can keep coarse, dry coats long after other horses shed. If you horse is not shedding out or not shedding out completely, please address nutrition and health to find the root cause.
What Your Horse Needs During Shedding Time
During the spring and fall, your horse sheds one coat and grows and entirely new coat. This incredible process starts in the horse’s brain – in the pineal gland. This gland controls melatonin and kicks off the hair change process. In order to produce this new coat, the horse needs to produce an incredible amount of protein and sebum (oils that are created in little glands on the skin).
To support your horse during shedding time, be sure to feed a ration balancer, high quality forage, and supplemental oil and protein. Examples are: Rice bran products, alfalfa, special feed oils for horses. Get some input from a knowledgeable horse nutritionist for your horse’s specific needs. Many feed producers will analyze your horse’s needs with you.
NOTE: Dry forage has only 1/2 the fat of fresh grass. If you feed hay year round, consider fat supplementation.
Plenty of Rest
Your horse may lack a bit of spunk during shedding time. No wonder, growing a new coat is a heavy lift! If you can, lower the exercise regimen and give your horse an additional day off. Snoozing in the sun is a favorite pastime for horses in the spring… while that new coat is growing!
Horse Grooming during Shedding Time – 3 Simple Steps
Use a massage curry to bring up fine hair and stimulate the hair follicles and blood flow to the skin. A flexible curry is a great tool to remove loose hair and invigorate the horse’s skin and hair follicles. Start at the top of the neck and work in circular movements toward the tail, all over the horse’s body. Knock out the curry as you go.
Follow up with a 50/50 wire/bristle brush such as HorseHaus ‘Curly’ (remember to clean your brush against a stiff curry every couple of strokes) and brush in the direction of hair growth. You will remove more hair, especially from the fine undercoat, and lift away dirt and dust that can cause itching.
Last not least, use a stiff grooming brush such as HorseHaus Tough One all over the horse’s coat, brushing in long strokes in the direction of hair growth. This will remove the last bit of dirt and hair and smoothen the coat.
Result: Most of the loose hair and dirt should be gone and your horse’s coat looks clean and slick.
TIP: For stubborn knotted fine hair behind elbows or in the girth area, etc. use a special shedding blade.
‘Enjoy your horse! (And don’t wear lip balm to the barn 😉