How to Help Your Horse Shed

 

There are a few things you can do to help your horse shed. During shedding season, the horse’s current coat vacates to accommodate the new coat. This happens twice yearly, in the spring and the fall. The purpose of helping your horse shed is to remove the loose hair. It’s not pulling hair from the hair follicles as waxing would do; it’s lifting what is ready to have another life in a bird’s nest.  And you may need to clip a shedding horse!

 

Table of Contents

What triggers a horse to shed?

The best grooming tools to use

Clip the shedding horse

Shedding from the inside out

More shedding tips

Why some horses don’t shed

FAQ

 

Jump to videos and shopping

 

What triggers a horse to shed?

 

    • Your horse’s eyes and brain regulate the horse’s coat. As the hours of daylight increase after the winter solstice in December, their brain signals their body to release the winter coat and grow a new summer coat. This won’t happen immediately after the solstice but in late winter. You may even start to see your horse’s winter coat falling out in February. The shedding cycle is much more about the time of year and daylight than cold weather, although a horse’s nutrition will also come into play.

     

    • As the daylight hours decrease after the summer solstice, your horse’s brain knows it’s time to grow that winter hair coat! This also takes about six weeks to so to kick in fully. The cold temperatures of fall and the warm temperatures of spring do not influence when or how a horse grows a new hair coat.

     

    • Some show horses live in barns that use artificial lighting in the barns to mimic daylight. In the winter, the horse’s brain thinks the sun is shining much longer, and the heavy coats associated with winter never grow in. This also keeps a mare’s estrus cycle going in winter, allowing breeding farms to time their foaling season.

     

    Read this for more on using lights to stop a horse’s winter coat coming in.

 

shedding horse piles of hair

The only kind of “snow” acceptable in the spring

 

The best grooming tools to help your horse shed

 

  • Use the world-famous elbow grease and curry comb action will definitely help your horse shed. You may need to flick off the hairs, then curry again in an endless cycle of horse hair rain. It’s regular grooming, but more of it. Nothing beats the circular motion to bring up all of that loose hair. Regular rubber grooming tools can get overwhelmed by the thick winter coat. Look for a rubber curry comb that’s deeper and stiffer and has long teeth to bust through that coat.

 

  • Grooming gloves make an excellent shedding tool. You can avoid spending extra time because you have two hands doing the work. Great to use all year long, you can spend half the time using both hands to groom your horse. Curry combs and grooming gloves also reach the skin, where they can pick up dirt, dust, and dead skin, also known as dander. They also smear around your horse’s natural oils, boosting shine.

 

 

 

Or try these specialty shedding tools:

 

  • A shedding blade, or metal curry comb, is another option to help your horse shed. I’m not typically a fan of these fancy hacksaw blade grooming tools for a horse’s coat. Sensitive areas and ticklish skin can be easily bothered, so avoid the bony areas of your horse’s hips, shoulders, and legs. And their adorable face – keep the metal blades away! However – it’s wildly satisfying to rake off lots of hair. Sometimes these double as hair removers from thick saddle pads.

 

  • A shedding block works to pull horse hair. It is similar to a pumice stone and, in some ways, a hybrid between a shedding blade and a curry. Shedding blocks also remove bot fly eggs and hair from your car’s carpet in a flash.

 

  • A Tiger Tongue grooming sponge may work well for the more sensitive of horses.

 

  • Use grooming oil on a cloth to pick up stray hairs after grooming. As the coat sheds, there will always be hairs falling out. Grooming oil acts like a grippy cloth, attracting loose hair as it deposits conditioners. It’s as simple as wiping your horse down after grooming. This is also handy if it’s windy to minimize how much hair swirls around. As a bonus, grooming oil is a hair conditioner and boosts shine!

 

grooming gloves on clipped horse with a few loose hairs

These nubby gloves work wonders for the shedding horse and keep your hands clean.

 

You can clip a shedding horse. 

 

  • Clipping during the spring will not stop shedding; it just makes the hair shorter. If the weather is warm enough to make your horse uncomfortable, a full body clip or trace clip can help. Be prepared to supplement with sheets or blankets during a cold snap.

 

  • If your horse is already comfortable with the weather, you can use clippers to tidy up your horse. Trim those wacky hairs around joints, ears, chins, and fetlocks if you want to. Clipper combs are handy to use for this; they create some distance between the blade and your horse so only the unruly hair is chopped off.

 

Light oil removes extra hair from shedding horses

Grooming oil on a cloth will pick up stray hairs after grooming.

 

Help your horse shed from the inside out

 

  • Make sure your deworming program is up to date, as parasites affect hair coat and quality. It’s no longer recommended practice to cycle through deworming brands. Instead, pair a fecal egg count program with targeted dewormers for a more specific worm treatment plan. Your vet can help you cover all of the bases.

 

  • Is your horse missing a key nutrient? Good nutrition works from the inside out, manifesting in a healthy, shiny coat. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for boosting hair coats and helping skin health. The best fats for horses have stabilized flaxseed, chia, or fish oil. Corn oil has shine-boosting properties but is too high in Omega-6 fatty acids—like ridiculously high.

 

piles of hair under a horse that is clipped or shedding

You can clip the shedding horse!

 

More tips for helping your horse shed

 

  • Give your horse more turnout! This helps daylight magically trigger your horse to shed, and your horse can roll around independently. A sandy spot is a perfect location for your horse to curry himself and do a lot of that elbow grease for you – except for removing the sand.

 

  • Exercise your horse! This will stimulate circulation and coat health. And if you ride fast enough, the wind can help shed, too.

 

  • Use a horse vacuum. This will help suck up a lot of loose hair and prevent most of it from landing on (and in) your clothes.

 

  • Bathe your horse. Nothing like a good bath in warm weather to rinse all of the cold weather away.

 

  • You may consider using an old shirt to cover your clothes as the shedding process peaks; there is typically a ton of hair to remove. And for Pete’s sake, don’t wear lipstick.

 

Why horses don’t shed out

 

  • Some horses are on their own schedule for shedding, for a few different reasons. Horses with poor eyesight, total blindness, or living in dark barns without light may not be triggered to shed. If the photoreceptors in a horse’s eye are damaged, the shedding cycle may be confused.

 

  • Cushing’s disease is another reason. This metabolic disorder starts as a tumor on the pituitary gland and can affect the shedding cycle. As the pituitary gland pumps out more hormones, the cortisol level in your horse rises. Aside from being a laminitis risk, cortisol tells your horse to grow lots of thick and long hair – all year long. Many horses with Cushing’s disease require body clipping all year long to help them thermoregulate. You’ll be an expert clipper in no time flat

 

fuzzy cheeks on a horse with a winter coat
You can trim the wilder goat-like hairs that surround your horse.
 
 

What are common mistakes when helping your horse with shedding?

 

To help your horse shed, avoid over-shampooing, as this can strip natural oils and damage the coat. Also, steer clear of using harsh tools or excessive force, which can lead to skin irritation. Lastly, ensure your horse stays hydrated and with lots of those Omega-3’s to support healthy skin and coat renewal.

 

How do you stop a horse from growing a winter coat?

 

The best way to stop a horse from growing a winter coat is to move to the equator, where the daylight hours are the same, all year long. You can also replicate this by using lights in your barn, to extend the daylight hours. Some clever researchers at Texas A & M found that indoor lights that extend daylight to 16 hours will prevent a horse from growing a winter coat.

 

How often should you groom your horse to promote healthy shedding?

 

Groom your horse at least 2-3 times a week during shedding seasons. Regular grooming not only helps remove loose hair but also stimulates natural oils in the skin, promoting a healthier coat and overall well-being for your horse.

 
 

 

 

 

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Need to stock up on goodies that can help your horse shed or to clip a shedding horse?  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which are not a penny more for you. I couldn’t be more grateful for your support!

Big Hoss - Outlaw Nutrition

Omega 3's plus gut health support in a delicious cold milled flax formula. It's delicious and it will turn your horse's coat into a mirror.

Shapley's No.1 Light Oil
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For shine, conditioning, detangling, and stain protection.

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SHAPLEY'S Medi-Care Med Shampoo W/Tea Tree & Lemon Grass, 32 oz
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The best shampoo for shine and soothing.

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Farnam Slick 'N Easy Horse Grooming Block
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Good for grooming, shedding, and bot egg removal

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You can also visit my Amazon storefront here: PEG storefront.

Big Hoss - Outlaw Nutrition

Omega 3's plus gut health support in a delicious cold milled flax formula. It's delicious and it will turn your horse's coat into a mirror.

Shires Cactus Cloth
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HandsOn Finishing Gloves - Double Sided
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The jute side buffs to add shine, the other side is fuzzy for lifting dust and applying fly sprays and grooming products.

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Handson Ergonomic Hoof Pick
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This is the strongest hoof pick available!

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Farnam Slick 'N Easy Horse Grooming Block
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Good for grooming, shedding, and bot egg removal

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Haas Lipizzaner Brush
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This brush is luxury and will help your horse shine!

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Electric Cleaner Co Rapid Groom Horse Vacuum
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It's always satisfying to vacuum your horse!

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HANDSON Pet Grooming Gloves - Grooming, Bathing, Shedding
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These are HandsOn Gloves with special pricing! Only in the color gray.

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Shapley's Easy-Out No Rinse Shampoo 32 fl.oz
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Shapley's No.2 Heavy Oil
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Shapley's Hi Shine Shampoo, 1-Gallon
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Other sizes, too! Adds shine with the most gentle formula.

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SHAPLEY'S Medi-Care Med Shampoo W/Tea Tree & Lemon Grass, 32 oz
$19.98

The best shampoo for shine and soothing.

03/11/2024 11:12 am GMT
Shapley's No.1 Light Oil
$19.99 ($0.62 / Fl Oz)

For shine, conditioning, detangling, and stain protection.

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Shapley's Equitone 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, GOLD
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Shapley's 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, BLACK
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Farnam Excalibur Sheath Cleaner 16 OUNCE
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Magic Sheen Spray 1Qt
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Thank you!