A shiny, lustrous coat is without a doubt a telltale sign of a well-cared-for, healthy, happy horse. Here are five tips and tricks to make sure your horse is looking and feeling its best.
1. Start from the inside out
If a horse is lacking proper nutrition, it’s going to show on the outside. That’s why a good coat starts with quality forage. Nearly 100% of your horse’s diet is hay. Bad hay lacks the nutrients your horse needs. Shop around for good quality hay from a reputable farm or feed store in your area. Some key attributes of good hay are
- Texture (beware of dusty and/or brittle hay)
- Color (look for lush green instead dull, gray-green, or yellow),
- Freshness (pay attention to the type of cutting)
In addition to hay, most owners supplement their horse’s nutritional needs with some sort of grain. Low quality grains might be a better price, but also tend to be higher in “filler” ingredients such as molasses, corn, and sugar, resulting in decreased digestion and poor nutrition for your horse. Spend the extra money for the high-quality grain instead.
2. Groom away the debris
There’s a reason that racehorses and Olympic equine athletes shine brighter than regular horses. Usually, it’s because they have their own designated groom tending to every inch of their body, every single day. Learn from the pros and start giving your own horse a little extra TLC:
- First, Spend a good 10-15 minutes currying circles all over your horse’s body with a rubber curry comb, which will loosen dust, dried sweat, and dead skin buried in the hair and bring it up to the surface.
- Then, grab a stiff brush and briskly brush away everything you just curried up, following the growth of your horse’s hair.
- Finally, move onto a soft brush or towel. Use the towel or soft brush to smooth the coat down and brush away any remaining fine dust and dirt left on the coat.
3. Take a bath
Sometimes your horse just needs a good, old-fashioned bath. If your horse still looks like it has dirt and crud lingering on its coat after a good grooming, it’s time for a bath. Much like grooming, bathing rituals vary. For instance, racehorses might get bathed every day, while show horses might be bathed every 1-2 weeks. Find a happy medium for your horse. Use a curry comb or grooming mitt to lather your horse’s coat up and scrub out any dirt and loose hair during the bath.
4. Give your horse fatty supplements
Adding fats to your horse’s diet can also provide that extra shine. There are several supplements to choose from that are specifically designed for coat health and quality. For starters, you can simply add a small amount of basic fatty oil such as flax seed oil, rice bran oil or sunflower seed oil to their grain or over their hay. Within a week or two, you should see a noticeable difference in their coat.
5. Go see the doctor
Sometimes, there can be an underlying health issue with your horse that no amount of grooming, oil, and shampoo and conditioner will be able to fix. If you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options and your horse’s coat still doesn’t appear healthy, it might be time to talk to a veterinarian.
Many different factors and conditions such as gastric ulcers, Cushing’s disease, and worms can cause a dullness or change in your horse’s coat, and will need to be diagnosed and treated by your vet. Once you and your vet determine the cause of your horse’s coat problems, you can work together to find the solution and get back to your goal of keeping your horse looking healthy and happy.