They say there are two sure signs of spring: mud and shedding horses.
Only your drainage and your weather can help you with the mud. But here are a few tips for helping you deal with the fur factory — I mean shedding horse — in your barn.
The old-fashioned way: the rubber curry comb. Curry combs come in all shapes and sizes these days; if you’re feeling like a princess, try a crown-shaped curry comb. But what won’t change is the bicep-building elbow grease required to give a horse a good rubbing with a curry comb. Sending furry clumps of winter hair sailing through the fields is a springtime rite of passage with good reason. It’s probably the single most effective way to help the shedding along.
The new-fangled way: overhead lights. Daylight savings time is here, but maybe you aren’t getting enough daylight to signal your horse’s hormones to kick in and make that shedding magic happen. Try leaving on a light – as low as 100 watts – in your horse’s stall for a few hours after sunset each night. The light will trick your horse’s body into triggering the spring shedding. (And then, yes, get your curry comb out).
The very thorough way: feeding. A horse who isn’t in the full bloom of health will hold onto his winter coat longer. If you’re concerned that everyone at the barn is covered with horse hair but you, it might be time to take a look at your horse’s nutritional intake. Amino acids, protein, vitamins, and fat are all a major part of hair growth and health. They also affect the hooves, so if you are having problems with hoof growth and quality, this may be reflected in the coat. Quality, fresh hay and fatty supplements such as flax-based mixtures are often good choices for coat and hoof improvement.
Good health, a little extra daylight, and some quality time with a curry comb: the keys to a successful shedding. Wear your horse-hair shirt with pride, as you know the end of winter is near!