Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I have had a couple of horses over the past couple of years who have had odd shedding patterns, including one of the geldings I currently have in training - so I thought I would do a brief blog on it! The aforementioned gelding has taken forever to shed out and kept all his facial hair for last. His body (barrel and hind) started shedding out first, with his neck coming next, the sides of his face, and now finally the frontal length of his face (top first and working its way down to his nose), and lastly, his ears will come. Obviously abnormal shedding can be the result of conditions such as Cushing's, but what horse owners need to be aware of is that it can also be the result of malnutrition or worms, for example. Shedding winter's overcoats is a good article outlining said reasons. If your horse is shedding abnormally, have your vet run some tests to check for abnormal hormonal functions. Also do fecal tests to check for worms (worm regularly), and evaluate your horse's overall condition, particularly weight-wise. The gelding I mentioned above came in a good 100lbs underweight. As his weight has increased, so has his overall health obviously and thus his shedding rate has increased, though he is shedding in an 'abnormal' pattern due to the malnutrition.
In conclusion - check your horses and take note when they are shedding too slowly or in an odd pattern, because it could be a good indicator of your horse's overall health status. Lastly, on the note of equine coats, keep an eye on your horse's coat colour: excessive red in a dark bay or black horse's coat can indicate specific nutrient deficiencies. Talk to your vet and ensure your horse is receiving the nutrients he requires, particularly given his housing situation and environment (soil, grasses, etc) as well as exercise level - a basic supplement that covers all general areas may be in order.