Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When Things Get Hairy: Your Horse’s Winter Coat

Is your horse starting to grow that longer, thicker winter coat?  Are your thoughts turning to blankets, clippers and other means of coat control?

Before you invest any time and money, consider first what causes your horse to do this each Fall.  It might surprise you to know the regulation of hair growth starts with photoreceptors in the eyes plus heat and cold sensors in the skin. Combine these sensors with a decrease in the number of daylight hours and the cooler ambient temperatures, and boom!  You've got hair!

So, if you really want to stop your horse from growing a winter coat, you will need to put him under “full spectrum” lighting, which most closely mimics light from the sun.  And, if you do that, you will also need to keep him warm inside, either with a heater or a blanket.

Blanketing by itself won’t stop hair growth, but it may affect the thickness.  Body clipping will only remove the hair that is already there, and then you will have to keep him blanketed to make up for the missing winter fur.

And, regardless of how you minimize or eliminate winter hair growth, you are increasing the risk that your horse will get sick.  Your horse’s coat was designed to keep him warm in the coldest of conditions.

Here at Cold River, we believe horses are healthier and happier when they can romp outside in the furry winter coats Mother Nature gave them.