Healthy Coat

ALEX: One of the important aspects of a healthy horse is for them to have a healthy coat, which is one of the signs of them, that they’re flourishing, they’re doing well, they’re eating well. They have a good color to their coat, their hair is in good condition, there’s no kinds of skin disease, which would be an irritation of the skin. So those are some of the things to look at, but I think there’s really more to it, as far as horses not having a health coat, what it could lead it to, or what it could be coming from.

STEVE: Well, when talk about a horse with an unthrifty or unhealthy coat, what we look for is, that instead of being even hair length, whether it be winter time or summer time, because a horse can have a lot of hair on him and still have a healthy coat, but have a lot of hair on them and have an unhealthy coat.

We’re looking at a nice gloss to it, with a lot of the oils and finish on it. Talking about skin disease, what we’re really referring to is, that’s there no areas or disruption in the coat, where you see areas of possibly fungus, ringworm, skin infection, where it’s rough. That there’s areas where the coat has been pulled out or it’s been rubbed out to where there’s areas of possibly some local infection, or let’s say, exudate or something like that on the skin.

Another thing that we look for in particularly certain colored horses – bay horses, in particular, show it quite readily – is that, we see a horse that has dapples on it. Now, you know, surprisingly enough, this is a difference in hair coat, versus a solid bay, a horse that has dapples will have some areas of circular patterns, and it usually indicates it’s health, that a horse is doing well, and feeling good. And their coat pattern is completely undisrupted. It’s very, very even in coat and color. Typically, we see it more commonly in the summertime when they have a short coat, or a very, very tight coat.

They have areas of, especially across their trunk of their body, dapples. And essentially, diet is very, very closely related to a health coat from the standpoint that they’ll have a good sheen, they’ll have plenty of weight, obviously, and they’ll have a lot of oil in the coat. If you rub it or brush it, it becomes very glistening or glossy.

And all this is indicative that the horse has overall health, they’re feeling good, and typically, condition score is conducive that a horse will have a better five, to upwards of six or seven condition score. Which means that they have reserve, or extra weight on board for extra activity or whatnot.

ALEX: Daily grooming or brushing of the horse is something that can help promote a healthy coat, with a curry comb and a stiff brush, and a soft brush. It helps to increase the circulation. It helps remove any debris that’s in the coat. And going through that process of a curry comb, a stiff brush, and a soft brush, helps you bring all those things off the coat and get a nice, glistening, smooth coat.

The other thing you do, too, obviously with certain exercises, a horse is going to become very sweaty, or if they’re out to pasture, they might roll and get muddy. So a proper bath with some good natural shampoos to help keep their coat clean, keep the pores open so the skin can breathe.

Weather and season do play a role in a horse’s coat, as far as, depending on where you live and the climate the horse lives in. Obviously, if it’s in a colder climate, they’re going to grow more hair, more quickly in the wintertime, and then come springtime, they’re going to shed that.

Now, with competition horses that have long hair, we would body clip them so as their hair is shorter, so that when they sweat, then they’re able to dry off quicker. A horse that has a lot of hair and sweats will maintain that moisture, so it gives them a greater chance of maybe becoming sick or affecting their skin and how it breathes, and maybe lead to a skin disease of some type.

STEVE: Oh, definitely. It takes a lot longer for them to dry. If a horse has a lot of hair on them, I clip on my rope horses so we can basically, they can dissipate the heat right away, and when we’re done, they dry off right away versus carrying a lot of that sweat and moisture It takes them forever to dry off if they have a lot of hair on them.

ALEX: That’s another indication of a healthy horse, when the weather starts to change and turn cold, that they quickly grow their hair so it keeps them warm, but also, in the springtime, that they shed it quickly at that change of season. And that’s another indication that’s a healthy coat.