Horses normally start to shed their winter coats beginning to middle of autumn and being completely shed out by the middle of may. The winter coat begins growing during the late summer and becomes longer and thicker during the autumn.
The rate at which the winter coat grows in is influenced by autumn temperatures - a few nippy nights will cause horses to grow their winter hair faster.
In the spring, the shedding out process is triggered by the lengthening day light as well as warmer temperatures.
The long winter coat may be altered for winter by body clipping or by blanketing. An un-clipped coat is usually softer and richer in colour than if it was clipped. If you choose to keep the coat short by clipping , remember that the horse needs more care. He is very vulnerable to drafts, yet he needs fresh air and good ventilation.
His blankets must be clean, must fit properly and must be added or taken off when the temperature changes. The skin must be inspected after every ride and washed with clean water, or a little body wash may be added.
If you find your horse isn't dropping his coat, we would recommend you seek Veterinary advice and have a blood test done on your horse. From the results, your vet can ascertain whether your horse is suffering with Cushings Disease. Equine's Cushing Disease is correctly known as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID). To find out more about Cushing's please click here to read more information and advice from RCVS.
To help your horse shed it's coat quicker the first tool to use is a Clipit Hand Groomer to loosen the dirt, scurf and dandruff and massage the skin and muscle beneath the coat. These bendable gloves can flex with your hand so you can bear down and massage the skin as well. Too many people buy a stiff currycomb and then cannot use it because the horse will not tolerate it.
Give a light massage and you will find the loose undercoat will start to shed. Instead of a plastic currycomb, a shedding blade can be used to shed out the long winter hair in the spring. It has a flexible blade with a serrated edge for shedding; the smooth edge can be used as a sweet scraper. Don't bend it backward or the blade will break. Be adventuresome and try a cactus cloth. The cloth is made from the fibres of the maguey plant. It contains a little natural oil and helps to shine the coat. The rough surface makes it easy to scrub away sweat marks and dried mud. Cactus cloths are available as a large grooming cloth or in the form of a mitt backed with fleece.
For more information, and how to tell if your horse is healthy by looking at his skin, please click here