Using lights to regulate your horse’s hair coat.
Using lights is a sure-fire way to do a few things in your barn – prevent winter coats from coming in, keep your mares cycling throughout the winter, and cause a big electric bill.
- Some barns choose to keep horses under lights for coat control. Horses under lights won’t grow a winter coat, so you avoid clipping and the funny colored hair that sometimes results from clipping.
- Recent research from my alma mater, Texas A & M, has concluded that 16 hours of daylight (synthetic and natural) are needed to prevent horses from growing a winter coat.
- You will have the best success if you do two things – keep this routine year-round, and use “full spectrum” lighting. This is basically a fancy way of saying fake sunlight. Full-spectrum lights are available at most hardware stores and cost a bit, more but mimic natural light.
- Mares will also continue to cycle throughout the winter, which may or may not be something you are interested in.
A barn in CA that keeps the lights on until about 10 pm. They pop back on at 5 am. Year-round!
- I know barns that use lights and are set on a schedule to extend natural daylight. The lights are turned on at 5 am or so, off when it’s naturally light, on again before dusk, and off at 10 or 11 pm. Timers are great for this task, but you will need to adjust the timers every few weeks as the days lengthen or shorten.
Barn aisle lights are not enough… Ideally, each stall should be illuminated.
These won’t do the trick for stopping winter coats, but I like them because they are covered with a cage for safety.
- Now – you may be wondering if a little 100W bulb will do. Probably not. You should count on at least two 8′ tubes of lights per 12 x 12 stall. These types of lights usually come in 4 or 8-foot sections. Easy to install! Be sure that your tube lights have a cover on them, just in case.
- You will also have to blanket your horse, as his summer coat likely won’t keep him warm in the winter.