Is your horse looking a little moth-eaten, do you have hair everywhere? Clipit Grooming explains how to deal with your horse's autumn coat change.
Autumn is here, which only means one thing the dreaded hair! Getting rid of the deed hair is not so much fun. Hair and scurf gets everywhere and you can't ignore moulting mess under his rug.
Horses change coat twice a year, in spring and autumn, and it's a particular problem at this time of the year when the coat starts to grow. Dirty, matted, coats can harbour bacteria and parasites, especially when we get warmer winter days. Your horse can get uncomfortably hot and sweaty if he is in medium to hard work, so when he returns from exercise wet, he could get uncomfortably cold when the sun goes in.
So what to do?
Coat Management - Get Grooming
The main solution to autumn coat change problems is regular thorough grooming. Good old fashioned elbow grease is key, especially at this time of the year, to get rid of loose hair and scurf.
A simple pair of Clipit De-Shedding and Grooming Gloves work well on a moulting coat if your horse isn't clipped or is partially clipped. Use them in a circular motion for the best results, it's very satisfying to see the mud and hair lift!
These grooming gloves come with the added bonus as they can get into awkward areas because they are flexible. These are brilliant for removing dried-on mud and for washing horses, too. The stimulate the skin, which contains the hair follicles and sebum glands that secrete oils, so the horse produces his own conditioner!
Shedding blades are grooming tools especially designed to take out moulting hair and scurf, or "dander" as the Americans call it. To do the best possible job with a moulting horse, first groom him with a shedding blade. Next, use a pair of grooming gloves, then a stiff brush and lastly a body brush. Be careful when using a stiffer brush on his tummy, face and below the knees and hocks, because these are sensitive areas.
Clipit Tip: Cover up with a Clipit Suit when you're grooming, to protect against the hair!
Coat Management - Bath Time
Bathing of course, is a great way to get rid of deshedding hair, but not everyone has the facilities to bath their horse this time of the year. Watch the weather forecast and plan your horse's bath time, making sure you have clean, dry towels to hand and a cooler rug - not your best one, it will get covered in hair.
If you don't have hot water, a couple of kettles of boiling water added to cold will help. Don't forget to rug him afterwards- it can turn cold quickly.
Bath your horse with a mild shampoo, or even better use a soap bar, so you can use less shampoo. An ideal soap bar to use is the Skin Sense Clay Soap Bar. Made and developed using a cold-process method that relies on natural ingredients and time for the chemical reaction known as saponification, and does not require heat to complete the process, resulting in a soap that is good for horse skin.
Clipit Tip: Keep anything made of fleece away from deshedding horses.
Coat Management - Soap Free Cleaning
Exercising horses whose coats are changing is also a conundrum at this time of the year. Try as you might, horses sweat and it needs to be removed. Walking the last part of your ride will dry him to a certain extent, but not so much if the weather is slightly warmer.
If the weather is too cold, you can "hot-cloth" him. Run a bucket of hot water and add a no-rinse coat wash. Dip a towel into the water, wring it out well and rub him down with it, majority on sweaty, dirty areas. If your horse has sensitive skin, it's a good idea to have an extra bucket of plain hot water alongside, too, so you can go over him again to remove any residue. Either way, give him another rub down with a clean, dry towel, then rug him up and voila - a dry-clean-horse.
Coat Management - Health From Within
A healthy coat is a clear sign of a well- balanced diet, especially when it comes to a shiny coat. Oil is known for promoting coat shine - from within and on the surface. There are many oil-based products you can add to your horse's feed, as well as feeds that contain oil. Soya oil is a great cheap supplement that keeps the skin and coat in great condition. If topical help is needed, a rinse or wipe off the coat with baby oil in hot water is great. If skin is really bad, coconut oil is even better - but can be a bit expensive.
Coat Management - Give him a clip!
You maybe thinking, clipping is not my thing. But truthfully going into the winter, it maybe better and healthier for your horse to have a clip. If your horse is living out, then we would only suggest giving him a low trace of a bib clip. It is really unfair giving your horse a full clip and leaving him out in all winds and weather, even with the best rug money can buy, for your horse to freeze.
Coats start to change when the light changes. So when the clocks go back in October, that is when your horse's coat starts to change. When the clocks go forward in the spring, that is when your horse's spring coat changes.
In winter, you can clip regularly as the coat grows back quickly - it doesn't even matter if you get a few tramlines, as they disappear in a week or so.
Coat Management - The mane line!
A common problem this time of the year is cause by rugs and, specifically, neck covers. Does your horse's mane have an embarrassing gap, or is it thin all the way up thanks to nose-to-tail winter clothing?
Leave thin areas of mane to grow back, only grooming them gently with a soft brush as you don't remove any more hair. If you're pulling the rest of your horse's mane, we would advise that only thinning and trimming should be done with scissors or a carding blade - not pulled- to get the mane to thicken up.
Clipit Tip: Put hair you're removed in a bucket or old feed bag to stop it from flying around the yard.