5 Facts about the Change of Coat in Horses

Zwei Islandpferde im Schnee

Twice a year, everything revolves around one topic for many horse owners: the change of coat. The most popular question at every stable is: Does your horse already shed? We have 5 important facts you should know about the change of coat in horses!

 Autorin: Karolina Kardel, 360 Grad Pferd

Fact 1: The change of coat does not depend on the temperature

A rumour that persists among horse owners with regard to the change of coat is that the change of coat depends on the temperature. Although temperature also plays a role, the change of coat is mainly triggered by the length of daylight.

Photo by: VI Photography / Irene Pritzl

The horse's pineal gland registers the length of daylight and informs the body that it is time for the next coat change because the days are either getting shorter or longer. The pineal gland produces the hormone melatonin, which is also known as the sleep hormone. When the days get shorter, the body produces more melatonin; as soon as the days get longer again, the melatonin secretion is also reduced. In this way, the organism learns that the winter coat must be shed - or produced.

Fact 2: Temperature determines what the coat looks like

As already mentioned, the temperature plays a subordinate role in the change of coat. It does not determine the time of the coat change, but it does determine the speed of the coat change and the length and density of the coat. If there is a cold snap, the change of coat from winter to summer coat comes to a standstill.

In addition, horses that are kept in a warm box have a less dense coat than, for example, an Icelandic horse that lives in an open stable in all weathers.

Fact 3: The horse has three different types of hair

Every horse has three different types of hair: permanent hair, temporary hair and tactile hair. But not all hair is affected by the change of coat.

Permanent hair includes the mane, tail and eyelashes. The tactile hair that grows on the eyes and nostrils of every horse helps the horse to estimate the distance between its mouth and an object. It helps the horse to find something - for example food.

Temporary hair is the hair that is affected by the shedding process. It consists of longer leading hairs and fine, dense underhairs. These hairs have a life cycle consisting of three phases: Growth phase, transition phase and rest phase.

During the growth phase, the hair follicle produces new cells. Once the final length is reached, growth stops. In the next growth cycle, the old hair root is pushed out of the hair follicle to make room for the new hair. This is the change of coat.

Fact 4: The change of coat is exhausting

Every change of coat is a real effort for your horse. However, the change from winter to summer coat is particularly strenuous - even if you would think that it is rather the other way round. This is mainly due to the fact that horses absorb fewer minerals and vitamins in winter, when they are not on pasture and only have access to roughage.

If there are not enough nutrients, this is accompanied by a weakening of the immune system and a higher susceptibility to infections, for example coughing. This is why it is so important, especially in the cold and wet season, that you do not simply put your horse, which is still warm and sweaty after riding, back into the paddock, but first let it dry properly with a sweat blanket. With our cooler rugs , you and your horse will benefit in particular, because we have made sure that the rugs are cut high and have a double fit at the chest. This not only protects the sensitive area of the chest from cold draughts and prevents your wet sweaty horse from freezing, but also ensures that a lot of moisture can be transported to the outside.

If your horse tends to have a nutrient deficiency during the change of coat, you can support it specifically and according to its needs. Important minerals that your horse needs more of during the coat change are zinc, copper, sulphur and selenium. Zinc in particular plays an important role in the formation of keratin and promotes cell division and the growth of hair and hair roots. A blood count can tell you whether your horse needs additional minerals. If you want to support your horse naturally, you can feed it linseed, for example, because it contains a lot of fibre, protein, selenium and omega 3, is good for the gastrointestinal tract and strengthens the immune system.

Fact 5: Extensive grooming during the change of coat is good for you

During the change of coat, many horses suffer from itching, because the loose hairs that fall out and the many dandruff that are caused by the dead skin of the falling hairs are simply itchy. That is why extensive grooming during the coat change is so important. It removes the loose hairs and dandruff. Shop it at SigMoLine. In addition, brushing stimulates the blood circulation, which in turn promotes the coat change, because it leads to better metabolic activity and thus to a better supply of nutrients to the skin and hair. In the end, extensive brushing also benefits your sweat blanket (and your washing machine), because sweat blankets are, as every horse owner knows, real hair magnets...

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Sportsfreund Studios

The Sportsfreund Studios blog contains numerous tips on dealing with horses. From fitness training to the learning behaviour of horses - you can read it all here. The blog is written by Karolina Kardel from 360 Grad Pferd.

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