What do do about a Horse Coat Not Shedding

Using the right tools can make your horse shed faster

Is your horse’s coat not shedding as normal? If your horses coat is shedding slowly or not at all, you should evaluate whether it’s due to weather, horsekeeping habits, or illness.

1. Weather. Horses in different parts of the country shed their hair at different times. The best way to determine if your horse’s hair shedding is on track is to compare to other horse’s in the area. Often horses delay the loss of hair even when we think they should be shedding because their bodies are anticipating another cold snap. Some horses are just naturally a few weeks behind shedding and can benefit from follicle stimulation through regular grooming and brushing.

If the majority other horses in the area have already naturally shed most of their coat, consider other possibilities.

2. Horsekeeping. A horse with worms will often lack the ability to shed fully and on time. If your horse seems to be shedding late or not at all- with no other health symptoms, check your worming schedule first. Some horses who haven’t shed their hair on time will "blow" their winter coat after being wormed.

Additionally, your stabling practices may affect winter coat hair shedding. Although most people believe temperature determines coat shedding, it’s actually the daylight and length of days that tells your horse when to shed his fur. For this reason, if you take your horses out of dark stalls at 8 or 9 am, and put them back in a poorly lit barn at 6 or 7 PM, you actually trick the horse’s body into thinking that it’s still February! If you think this may be the case, you can put your horses on full turnout or adjust your barn lighting into tricking your horse’s coat into thinking it’s mid summer already. To do so, install safe light fixtures with full spectrum bulbs and either manually turn lights on at 6am and off at 10pm, or install a timer to do so for you. Several weeks under artificial light will make many horses blow their coats.

3. Cushings. Cushings is a brain tumor in the pituitary gland (which regulates shedding, among other things) that is remarkably common and relatively treatable. If the above options do not help your horse shed their coat, you need to call your vet to examine your horse. Cushings is eventually fatal, but with proper care and nutrition Cushings horses are now living useful lives for years after diagnosis.

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