It's Shedding Time
 By Winniefield Park   •   8th Apr 2014   •   2,731 views   •   0 comments
Horse Shedding Time

There's horse hair up your nose, in your eyes, stuck to your shirt and in your own hair. Happily, shedding season has arrived in North America. I've noticed this spring that the horses have started shedding a bit late. Horses start shedding their thick winter coat in response to the increased daylight hours. Usually, I notice my horse starting to shed in mid-January. But, not this year. It's been a very cold and dark winter, and the horses seem to be keeping their winter woolies on longer.

If your horse keeps its long coat well into the warmer months, suspect a health problem like Cushing's Disease or poor nutrition. But, problems aside, shedding out is a joyful time for you and your horse. As the hair comes loose, your horse may feel a bit itchy, especially if the weather warms up quickly. To make itself more comfortable, your horse is probably going to revel in the mud or dirt, and leave clouds of hair in its wake. You can't really make a horse shed out faster without the help of controlled lighting, but you can groom away hair that has already come loose.

Mix mud and hair and you have a mess. So the more frequently you groom, the less of a mess your horse will be. Use a shedding blade to scrape off most of the loose hair and dirt. Then, apply elbow grease and a wide toothed curry comb. When you've collected a thick mat of hair in the curry comb, tap it teeth down on a fence rail or stall wall to knock out the hair and dirt. Keep brushing in a circular motion all over your horse's body. You might get to the point where very little hair is still coming out of your horse's coat. Or, if your horse has a very thick coat, you might have hours of work if you try to get it all. Your goal then will be a clean-up, rather than a perfect shine. If your horse is losing a really thick coat, it's almost pointless to use a body or finishing brush, because the brush will just get clogged with hair. Just brush the hair smooth with the curry comb.

You might be tempted to bathe your horse, but unless the weather is going to stay warm and dry, this isn't a great idea. Bathing strips the horse's coat of natural waterproofing oils. Your horse will feel chillier if the cool spring rains soak its coat after a bath. I've also heard of people giving their horses baths with mineral or baby oil to help pull out a winter coat. Again, unless you have a way of shampooing and drying the horse so it doesn’t get chilled, you might want to hold off on any type of bath.

I try to groom my horse outdoors at this time of the year. It makes clean up much easier, because there is no stable to sweep afterwards. And, the birds are busy building nests, and horse hair makes the prefect soft lining. I love finding nests in the fall that have been built with horse hair. I've also been asked to collect the hair for someone who spins. But, since my horse seems to be anxious to get rid of her hair shirt each spring, I'm not sure why I would want one!
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