Is it shedding season with you?
The joys of shedding season are now with many of us!
This weekend I was grooming, or trying to, as the equine in question finds the whole process rather tiresome. Hence we spend a lot of time going backwards and forwards, sideways and generally having multiple face-offs as he turns into a giraffe. My pleas that he should enjoy the experience fall on deaf ears!
Then, it happened. It happens every year so it really should not be a shock. There I was, grooming away, scraping the hair off the dandy brush every so often when I glanced at the ground.
All around us were those clumps of hair that come off the afore-mentioned dandy brush. Nearly enough to stuff a sofa. And of course, what was I wearing? Yup - a fleece fabric top. All equestrians will share my pain I’m sure! I left my home earlier that day reasonably clean and tidy and came back looking like a yeti.
Ah yes – all hail the unmistakable arrival of shedding season. Utter joy for anyone who has allergies or hayfever. It might still be baltic outside but hey – “let’s start shedding our winter coats” think our equine friends. Which seems bit odd given that for this blog writer, here in the UK we haven’t packed away our winter clothing and snow shovels just yet. But hey ho, it always seems to be this way.
So I started to ponder why do horses cast at all?
Well, our magnificent furry friends, just like us, need to cast their hair to replace old or damaged hair. Also, they usually instinctively grow a thicker coat for winter and then cast to reveal a lighter one for summer. I find this fascinating. One of my equine chums goes from very dark bay in the winter to glorious reddish bay in the summer. Two horses for the price of one! Its not uncommon for people to not recognise him from one season to the next.
Then of course when it starts to get colder, the hair will start to grow in much thicker again. And so the cycle goes on….
Of course, they can also cast their hair due to environmental factors, such as temperature changes. In the winter, horses grow a thicker coat to keep warm, but as the weather begins to warm up, they will shed this coat to stay cool. Similarly, horses may cast their hair in response to dry or humid conditions. In dry conditions, horses may shed their hair to conserve moisture, while in humid conditions, they may shed their hair to release excess heat.
Health and dietary issues may also affect their shedding. For example, horses that are undernourished or deficient in certain vitamins or minerals may have a weakened immune system, which can lead to hair loss. Similarly, horses that are suffering from certain skin conditions, such as mange or ringworm, may experience excessive hair loss as a result of the condition.
Cushing's disease, the hormonal disorder that affects horses, is caused by a dysfunction of the pituitary gland, which produces an excess amount of hormones that affect various bodily functions, including metabolism, immune response, and hair growth. Horses with Cushing's disease may exhibit a variety of symptoms, such as a long and curly coat, excessive sweating, increased thirst and urination, weight loss, and a weakened immune system. It is important for horse owners to seek veterinary care if they suspect their horse may have Cushing's disease, as early diagnosis and treatment can help to manage the symptoms and improve the horse's quality of life.
In some cases, horses may also cast their hair due to stress. Horses that are anxious, nervous, or experiencing a change in environment may begin to shed their hair as a coping mechanism. This is known as psychogenic alopecia.
Shedding is a perfectly natural process for horses, but there are some things we can do to help them. Regular grooming (even if they object) is essential to maintain a healthy coat and to help remove the loose hair. This can be done by using a soft-bristled brush or curry comb, which will help to remove any loose hair or dirt from their coat. And don’t forget - a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals can help to promote healthy hair growth and reduce the risk of hair loss due to dietary deficiencies.
In conclusion, horses cast their hair for several reasons, including the natural hair growth cycle, environmental factors, health issues, and stress. While shedding is a natural process, we can help our horses through this process by providing regular grooming, a balanced diet, and a healthy living environment. By taking these simple steps, we can help them maintain a healthy and beautiful coat of hair. So they can look gorgeous whilst their owner goes home from the yard looking like a yeti...
If it's time to invest in some new brushes for your horse's grooming routine - check out this great pack of 6 brushes.
And for you - ditch the fleece for now and check out some of these jackets!