Now is the time to start preparing for a sleek, glossy coat that will turn heads in the show ring. Chances are your horse has started shedding, but he probably still has remnants of his fluffy winter coat. Here are some things you can do to help your horse develop a beautiful coat for the show ring.
When it comes to helping your horse shed out, grooming tools are your friends. Equip yourself with a sturdy currycomb and a shedding blade and get to work. Grooming blocks can also help with the shedding process, so stock up on a few.
Elbow grease is key in helping your horse shed out. Curry him thoroughly to work loose the dirt and dead hair, brush him down with a stiff brush, and then use your shedding blade and grooming block on him. Follow up with another brushing to clean his coat and then rub him down with a soft cloth to remove any remaining dirt and to polish his coat.
It can be helpful to have designated “shedding clothing” which you wear only while shedding out your horse. Hair clings to everything, so a lightweight jacket or sweatshirt that you throw on just before grooming and remove before going home can help to keep the horsehair out of your car, home, and everywhere else. Also stock up on some pet hair remover rollers to help keep the hair under control.
Heat things up
Increased heat and light will further promote your horse to shed his coat naturally. Turn him out without a blanket on warm spring days and you’ll likely find that he’s rolled repeatedly on the grass and has probably shed out and loosened a portion of his coat at the same time. He’ll also probably have gotten quite dirty, but the extra grooming session will give you another opportunity to further shed out his coat.
Feed for health
A healthy coat depends on a healthy diet. Make sure that your horse is receiving adequate nutrition from your feeding program (you might choose to consult with an equine nutritionist or your vet on this). Follow a regular worming program, or have your horse’s fecal egg count checked, since internal parasites can have a negative effect on your horse’s health and can result in a lackluster coat.
Consider adding oil to your horse’s diet to add shine to his coat, but carefully consider what type of oil you feed your horse. Oils contain two types of fatty acids, which are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have fewer inflammatory properties than Omega-6 acids, so you want to feed an oil with a high ratio of Omega-3’s to Omega-6 acids. Such oils include soybean oil, flaxseed oil, and even canola oil. Avoid corn oil and vegetable oil, as these contain high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids. Kentucky Equine Research recommends feeding at least one-half cup of oil daily to promote a shiny coat.
Coat color preservation
As we head towards summer, owners of black horses may find that the sun fades and washes out their coats. Feeding one tablespoon of paprika per day to black horses is a popular strategy to keep their coats black, but remember that paprika can result in a positive drug test at horse shows, so pull your horse off of the paprika at least two weeks prior to any shows.
To preserve the color of a dark horse’s coat you might also consider turning your horse out at night and keeping him in during the day. If your horse is turned out during the day, try to feed hay in shaded areas to encourage your horse to stay out of the direct sunlight for a few hours. Ultraviolet-protectant fly sheets can be another option for turnout.
Start preparing now and your horse will have a stunning, shining coat come your first show of the season.
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