Your horse is not shedding out like you expect him to?
Normal shedding is triggered by a hormone produced in the horse’s pituitary gland when your horse is exposed to longer daylight hours. But sometimes, the pituitary gland does not ‘work’ correctly, and there are other factors that affect your horse’s ability to shed.
What helps your horse shed:
- Longer days/sunlight — for 60 days, constant, from day to day, 16 hours of daylight (natural and artificial light) are enough hours of light to trigger the necessary hormone to cause your horse to shed his winter coat.
- Exercise – increases circulation and healthier skin to aid the shedding process.
- Sebum – an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands. Your horse gets this from forage, but dry forage has reduced amounts; this ‘secretion’ does do other things but plays a part in shedding.
- Vitamin and Minerals — Vitamin A, vitamin B, protein and amino acids (hair is 95% protein), zinc and copper.
- Regular grooming!!! Good ole elbow grease!
Problems that cause a horse to not shed or not shed well:
- Low thyroid function
- Pituitary Pars intermedia Dysfunction (PPID) – Equine Cushing’s Disease which is a disease of the endocrine system affecting the pituitary gland.
- Poor health in general
- Weather and short days – cold days and nights
Solutions to speed shedding
Your veterinarian can help rule out PPID (Cushing’s) and thyroid function issues with a simple blood test. If Cushing’s is the problem, daily medication can easily be administered.
Check your deworming schedule and consider getting a fecal egg count on your horse (via your vet). Some horses are just more prone to worms and may need to be dewormed more often.
For stall-kept horses, leave the barn lights on for an hour or two after it gets dark.
Improve your horse’s nutrition; do your own research on safely increasing vitamins and minerals, read product labels and speak with your veterinarian. Increasing grazing time if your horse does not have metabolic issues is another option as well.
Finally, the easiest one, get out there with your horse and get him moving; this is good for his overall health, and a healthy coat follows! Moreover, this gives YOU a benefit; horses provide relief from stress, and who doesn’t need that right now? Our horses also add to our exercise regime, thus improving our health and well-being too!