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Get Your Horses Shine On
 By Winniefield Park   •   4th Aug 2017   •   748 views   •   0 comments


I love my horseís coat in the late spring and early summer, just after the winter coat has fallen out, but before the sun bleaches it dry. There are a few ways to avoid dry dull coat, beyond providing a healthy diet and parasite control program. Here are a few ways to help your horse's coat stay healthy and shinning.

Seeds
Many people wonder if itís okay for a horse to eat sunflower seeds and the answer is yes. Horses can eat them shelled or unshelled and the oils in them can contribute to a healthy shining coat. They shouldnít be fed in any great quantity on their own, but rather as an extra along with other fodders and concentrates. And, the type of seed is important too. The big black and white stripe seeds are grown for human consumption. They have a thicker shell that the horse canít digest well. The smaller, all black seeds are grown primarily as bird feed and they are fine to feed horses. There hasnít been a lot of research done on feeding sunflower seeds, but the consensus seems to be to feed up to two cups a day. If your horse is suspicious of eating other vegetable oils, gradually introducing black oil sunflower seeds, or BOSS might be something to try.

Another seed fed for coat growth is flax or linseed. These little seeds are not only a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, they are a source of soluble fiber, which like psyllium husks may help clear sand from the gut. Flax is also thought help alleviate inflammatory diseases such as COPD, some types of arthritis and sweet itch. Flax fed whole is not as effective as ground flaxseed. The downside is that ground flax goes rancid quickly without refrigeration. Gradually feed up to one pound of flaxseed a day.

Oils
You can, of course, skip preparing seeds and pour various types of oil on your horseís feed. Some commonly used oils for coat health are fish oils, rice bran oil, corn, wheat germ, soy, flax, and sunflower. Feeding oils is also a good way to help a working horse maintain a healthy weight. Feeding an easy keeper oil may add too many calories. Some horses respond well to corn oil, some canít seem to tolerate it. Different types of oils contain different things so some are high in omega 6 or 3 fatty acids, and some have other important nutrients. Balancing your horse's diet means reading labels so you donít feed too much of one type of nutrient but not enough of another.

Sprays
Hands up who has a bottle of Show Sheen in their grooming box. This is a long time favorite, whether youíre heading or the show ring or not. There are several similar products that promise to give your horse a little extra shine as a finishing touch to your grooming efforts. Some are not recommended for the saddle area. They can make your horseís coat slippery, which might be a problem when youíre riding, or a coating of grooming spray sandwiched between horse and sweaty saddle pad might cause skin irritation.

Sun Protection
Summer sun, in addition to causing sunburn to white and lightly haired areas on your horse, can blanch out your horseís coat so itís dry and dusty looking. A sun or fly sheet can help protect your horse, and some grooming sprays have sunscreen in them. Show horses are often kept in during the day and turned out at night to protect their coats from sun damage.

Herbs and Spices
Some people swear that feeding paprika to their chestnut or bay horses brings out a rich color and shine. Iíve not tried it, but since itís not expensive maybe I should. Calendula, kelp, chamomile, wormwood and garlic are just of the few herbs thought to give horses a healthy coat. You can feed these by themselves, or in combinations. After bath herbal rinses can also be used to sooth a horseís skin and keep its coat healthy.

Grooming
Elbow grease applied well and often is important to maintaining your horseís shine. Grooming removes the dirt and brings the natural skin oils out to the end of the hairs protecting and waterproofing them. A soft brush and grooming cloth may be all that is needed for added polish. Baths might do the opposite though. Soaps can strip the hairs of their natural oils. This takes away the shine and can remove your horseís natural waterproofing.

Supplements
Feed store shelves are filled with supplements and many are made for adding shine to your horseís coat. Again, balance these with any other feeds your horse may be getting so youíre not over or under feeding any one nutrient.
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