Top tips to get rid of your horse's winter coat...quickly!
Why do horses lose their winter coat?
In order for you to understand why your horse loses his thick winter coat, it’s first important to understand what made it grow in the first place. Although hair growth generally coincides with colder temperatures, it’s primarily the amount of daylight hours that affects a horse’s hair growth, or lack thereof. As the daylight hours slowly start to decrease in autumn, your horse will start to grow a soft fuzzy coat over his short, slick summer one.
Likewise, as the daylight hours begin to increase in the springtime, you’ll notice that the thick, long winter hair starts to fall out. This is because your horse’s pituitary gland, recognises this change in daylight hours, and produces hormones that cause him to shed his winter coat.
How long will it take for him to lose his it?
There is no set time when your horse will finish moulting. He has his own unique moulting pattern every year losing hair from his neck first, for instance, then along his flanks. This can lead to a very unsightly “patchy” appearance, but this isn’t a cause for concern.
What’s the best way to get rid of his coat quickly?
There are some things that you can do to speed it up, all of which involve time, elbow grease and plenty of hair sticking to you!
Use a Shedding Blade: The name of this is deceiving! This metal toothed blade works wonders on a really thick native coat, just be careful around sensitive areas and on thin-skinned horses.
Curry comb vigorously: Inexpensive and usually in every grooming kit, a curry comb has been specially designed with moulting in mind. They usually fit snugly in most hands, even children’s, and are an efficient way of getting rid of a lot of the coat quickly. Just check that the nodules on the inside of it are still prominent, if not it may be time to get a new one.
Hands on grooming glove: These are a recent addition to the selection of grooming kit that’s now available. They’re great to use over legs, and bony areas. The hair comes off easily and quickly. You’ll find that your horse will use your hand like a rubbing post when you use it on him and the hair that comes off is incredible. If you haven’t invested in these yet, you should, your horse will thank you.
Break out the clippers: One suggestion is to use the last clip of the season, usually at some stage in February, to whip off much of the coat, thus avoiding the whole moulting madness. However, this means that your horse will need to be rugged up more if the temperature drops. Taking off most of his coat could only leave you to cope with moulting from his legs and a small patch on his back.
Exercise him: This is not only good for your horse’s coat, but it’s good for his circulation too. It gets the blood flowing! So, exercise your horse. Lunge him, ride him, or just take him for a walk. And once you have completed your work out, get grooming. You’ll see how much more quickly his hair comes off then!
Go naked: As soon as it’s warm enough, take off your horse’s rug and let him have a good roll providing your field isn’t too muddy. This will make him a lot less itchy and allow him to shed some of his coat naturally. Afterwards you might be able to see large patches of hair left on the grass where he has rolled - the birds will probably take this for their nests.
Hair today, gone tomorrow with elbow grease: Nothing beats good ole’ fashioned elbow grease when grooming. So, really put your back in to it. You’ll know if you are if you work up a sweat while you are currying and brushing, you’re doing it right!
Ban fleece! When your horse is moulting, you’ll find that horsehair will end up everywhere, it seems to be drawn to fleece clothing like a magnet is to metal. So, it’s worth avoiding wearing any fleece type clothing at the yard. If possible, it may be worth leaving your outer layer of clothing at the stables (preferably something lightweight and slightly shiny). Then you can pop this on at every given moment and it will save a lot of your other clothing getting covered as well as preventing you transferring it to your car/ house.