Bad Hair Coat

STEVE: Typically, this time of year, in the spring, a dull coat is longer and has a dull sheen to it. It doesn’t have a shine. A horse can have long hair on it and have a very healthy coat just because it hasn’t shed out yet. But when you run your hand across him, that hair basically will fall out, so they’re shedding, which is to be expected this time of year, being that the temperature is on the average 60 plus.

Whereas a horse that’s really healthy means that their coat’s pretty slick, tight, it has a shine to it. When you run your hand across it, you can barely get any hair off of them. Horses will tend to shed on and off year round anyway, especially if they’re blanketed and housed. But typically in the spring, they let go of their hair more often, and it’s more obvious.

ALEX: And you can see those horses sometimes in the spring. The healthy ones shed out faster than others.

STEVE: Most definitely.

ALEX: Or in the wintertime, those horses that prepare themselves for winter grow a real healthy winter coat a lot quicker than the ones that aren’t prepared for it.

STEVE: Definitely. Especially if it gets cold quick. Then you’ll see them already starting to put hair on, the first cold spell you get.

A bad hair coat on a horse would be, if a horse is receiving good, proper nutrition and has a great schedule of worming, teeth, that sort of thing, you’d want to look at the fact that an aberration in their hair coat would be indicative that maybe there’s an infection going on. Maybe there’s a parasite problem. Maybe there’s something that’s been missed that needs to be looked at further because they’re not necessarily assimilating their food properly. Maybe they have a gastrointestinal problem that you’re missing. Maybe there’s something further. Maybe an infection that’s basically underlying, that you’re not finding the results that you need to be looking for.

ALEX: That’s something that you would decide if it’s systemic or not systemic. I mean, a lot of times they could be exposed to something and maybe get a skin irritation in the barn. Maybe from bedding. They might get hives or have an allergic reaction to something. Does it seem like it’s systemic, things that are systemic, and things that are not?

STEVE: Typically, systemic would be something that’s generalized. Locally, a horse can get maybe something that’s a local reaction from a bedding, or something of this nature.

Typically, when a horse starts getting a generalized skin disease, fungus, something like this, that usually means, number one, they’re probably immunocompromised or immunosuppressed for some reason, due to maybe your load. Maybe they’re getting sick on you, or going to get sick on you. And these things can be early warning signs that there’s something a lot more important, a lot bigger on the horizon, where you’re going to have to really, really keep an eye on them. The fact that they get or they’re exposed to a fungus and it sets up housekeeping, usually means that they have something else going on that’s immunocompromised them for some reason.