Horse changing coat – a tour de force in spring

The hormonal change in horses begins as early as January and the organism prepares for the change of coat. Because what many horse owners don't know is that the change of coat in a horse not only depends on the temperatures but is also influenced by daylight. Unfortunately, this means that the animals are not adjusted to the change of coat early enough in terms of nutritional physiology and can develop deficiency symptoms.

In this article, you will find out exactly how the change of coat takes place and how you can optimally support your pet.

Why do horses shed their fur?

After December 21, when the shortest day of the year is over, the length of the days steadily increases. This is also registered by the pineal gland, a hormonal gland attached to your horse's brain. This gland produces the hormone melatonin, which, among other things, is responsible for the biorhythm and, in addition to reproduction and the sleep-wake cycle, also controls your animal's coat change. As the days get longer, the pineal gland signals your horse's body to begin the spring moult.

The temperatures determine the change of coat insofar as the change of coat is suspended in the event of a sudden cold snap. This is a protective function of the organism to prevent the coat from falling out too quickly if your horse still needs warmth in unexpectedly cold spring. Both daylight and temperature influence the density and length of the hair coat. So you can observe that horses in the open stable have a denser and longer coat than box horses. Ponies also have longer coats than warm-blooded or thoroughbreds.

The difference between fall and spring moults

Although horses change their coats twice a year, there are clear differences between the two times when they change their coats. In the fall, your horse will often shed its short, straight summer hair within a few days or weeks and initially replace it with short winter hair. This hair then gets longer until December and a two-layered coat of long upper hair and plush undercoat forms.

In spring, on the other hand, as a horse owner, you struggle with your horse's hair for weeks. This is because the long winter coat is only gradually shed. First, the long upper hair falls out, only then does the thick undercoat gradually loosen and finally, the thinner summer dress comes to light. It is therefore not surprising that some horses have a (slightly) different coat color in summer than in winter because except for the mane, tail, and whiskers, they change their entire coat.

Depending on the horse and the temperature, the shedding takes about three months and costs your horse a lot of energy. Some animals lose a lot of weight during this time. If you notice that your horse is less willing to walk or unmotivated for training and work, this is quite normal. Many animals are listless and listless due to the strenuous, natural process. You should take this into account in your training plan. Always keep in mind that the horse's organism performs at its best when changing its coat.

The right support for horses during the spring moulting

to brush

No horse owner can avoid intensive grooming in the transitional period. Because the dead hair itch, the horses often try to push or roll. You can support your animal by making it easier for it to shed hair with a slightly coarser brush. Fur scrapers or fur combs, which are available in different versions, can also help you, as the blades with short teeth remove shed hair. You should use a soft brush for the head area of ​​your animal.

Protection against colds

The transition period from a winter coat to summer coat as well as temperature fluctuations challenge the horse's immune system and it becomes more susceptible to colds. For example, if an animal has lost a little winter fur on a particularly warm spring day, it will sweat profusely, but it can benefit from the remaining winter fur at night when temperatures are low. Your horse has to use a lot of energy to compensate for these temperature differences. The immune system and circulation are therefore heavily stressed and require an extra portion of nutrients. Rose hips are ideal for spicing up your pet's immune system: They contain up to 23 times more vitamin C than lemons and valuable galactolipids, which have proven effective in joint problems.

Another protection against colds is drying the coat after training. If your horse's coat is long, it is advisable to let it dry well after training. Another option is to cover the animal with a sweat blanket.

Proper feeding care

To ensure the energy supply for your animal, a supply of high-quality proteins, trace elements, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids is necessary. So you can ideally support your horse with the feed when changing the coat. Zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium are important. Biotin and folic acid, which belong to the important family of B vitamins, are also essential for the regeneration of hair and skin.

You relied on the naturalness of the feed. Synthetic mineral mixtures have to be converted by the body and also stimulate the organism. The natural nutrient supply, on the other hand, can be better recognized and absorbed by the body. We are talking about better bioavailability here.

For a balanced supply of the minerals mentioned, we recommend feeding pure brewer's yeast, for example. Diatomaceous earth is also useful as it contributes to the supply of silicon. Silicon is involved in building a shiny and strong coat and also supports the horn structure and thus the hooves. Linseed oil or hemp oil is suitable to cover the supply of omega 3 fatty acids and to make the coat shine. You should dose slowly and carefully if your horse is not prepared for oily food. So you can test the compatibility well.

During the change of coat, the horse also needs more protein to build up the new hair. A protein-rich feed can also help here.

Special herbs can be very helpful in influencing the enormous performance of the metabolism positively. Many horses like to eat dandelion and nettle herb, they naturally stimulate the metabolism and also strengthen the liver and kidneys.

A balanced feeding is a be-all and end-all to support your horse when shedding and to relieve the metabolism.

Pay special attention to old and sick horses

A horse that is healthy and fed a balanced diet can cope well with the additional stress of changing the coat. If your horse is old or already has metabolic problems, the change of coat means an additional burden. These animals can lose weight, appear exhausted and weak, or develop other secondary diseases. To avoid this, you should adjust the amount of food accordingly.

During the transition period, you can often see so-called “hunger hairs” on your horse. They differ from real winter fur in that they clearly stand out from the normal coat and are also straw-like and hard. These hairs are a sign that your pet's metabolism needs intensive support.

If you find that your horse is still wearing its winter coat well into the warmer months and is generally having a hard time shedding, you should consult an animal healer or veterinarian. In such cases, there is a metabolic disorder that should be treated.


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