First, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Yoo Hoo, and I am a 7 year old ¼ Clydesdale and ¾ Quarter horse. Yes, my humans named me after a chocolate drink and I’m not sure how you can be 3/4ths of a quarter and still be a full horse. Things have been a bit boring around the barn so I have decided to amuse myself by entertaining you with my observations.
The hot topic around town is how some horses are looking sleek and shiny and others are looking more like a Thelwell pony. I’ve heard a lot of opinions on how to get everyone looking their best and thought I would share a few things I overheard. But first, the facts. We horses grow and shed our coats based on daylight hours. It’s just Mother Nature’s way of getting us prepared for the weather ahead.
So, how can you fool Mother Nature? Some horses spend Fall, Winter, and Spring under lights (bright 200 watt bulbs!) with timers to trick our bodies into thinking it’s Summer. But for this method to be successful, we horses have to live confined to a small area or stall where we are always under light. Some owners will put us under the lights at some point in Winter to encourage us to shed early, but plan on at least several weeks before you see any results.
Some owners get very energetic and drag out the clippers and shave off our winter woolies. While it is bonding time between horse and human, it does require some patience on everyone’s part. With clipping, timing is everything. Have you ever seen a horse that had to spend the entire Summer with a coat that had the end clipped off as it was growing in? If you want to clip off that winter coat, be sure you clip before we start to shed. It will make sure our sleek summer coat stays that way!
So, if you didn’t (or couldn’t) put us under lights and have missed the clipping window, what can you do?
I love to see my human wearing my coat. It just marks her as mine. I prefer a nice full body massage with a rubber curry and face rub with a grooming mitt. As an added benefit, it works out her arms so she can lift my grain bags. Speaking of food, there are a few nutrients that are rumored to help me shed quicker and make my coat sleeker. Long ago (before my time), my human was told feeding me fresh grass would help me shed quicker. Luckily, my owner figured it couldn’t hurt and has let me partake of the fresh grass growing in my new pasture this year. And my barn mates (Jasper and Mousse) are shedding faster this year than in years past when we were stuck in our corrals. But why? Unlike hay, fresh grass contains Omega 3 and I don’t even have to eat fish! The Omega 3 oils help my hair follicles let loose of the old hair! But what can you do if you don’t have a pasture like me? Hopefully you can find a patch of grass for your horse to munch on (because we sure like it!) but there are other ways to get those oils in us. Flax seed, black oil sunflower seeds, or corn oil can help get fat into our diet and will give us a nice shiny coat for the Summer.
A couple medical thoughts on shedding. Some horses will delay shedding their coat due to a heavy worm load, poor nutrition, or a metabolic disorder such as Cushings. If your equine friend just won’t shed or sheds one long haired coat for another long haired coat, please consult your veterinarian. Remember, I’m just a horse sharing my observations and experiences!