Why do horses have dull coats?


Well…it boils down to environment, care, health, and diet. Your horse’s coat shows a little bit of what’s happening inside him, as well as just how dirty he likes to be and how often you get to grooming.


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Causes of dull coats


  • It’s part genetics. Some horses have a thicker coat, coarser hair, lighter color. Grays are hard to get shiny, heck, they are hard to get truly clean. Stallions are blessed with more shine to their coats because of their hormones, so mares and geldings are typically not so mirror-like. Some breeds are also not super shiny, not everyone can be an Akhal-Teke. As much as I love the Icelandic horses, they are super fuzzy and not so shiny.


chestnut horse with dull winter coat

All winter he looks blah. But the unclipped coat will do that!


  • The dullness factor is also partially due to your horse’s environment. Is it winter, and he’s fuzzy? Is it winter and he’s clipped and a bit dull? Are his living quarters dusty, sandy, or even muddy? Does he live in a giant paddock of fantastic dust and dirt?


  • Add to this your grooming habits. Are you more “ignore it and it will eventually go away” type of horse groom, or do you consider daily grooming to be an hour-long session – each side?


But what about what’s going on inside your horse? A few things can influence how your horse looks on the outside.


  • Your horse’s diet must be balanced for his age, exercise level, hay quality and type, access to pasture, past medical history, the type of soil he lives on, the list goes on. Dietary imbalances reduce performance and appearance!


gray horse with a long tail  in pasture

Migs is also sort of blah as he sheds from winter to summer coat.



  • Your horse’s external parasite load. Mange, rain rot, bacterial infections, and weird horse skin crud can dampen the shine on your horse.


  • Your horse’s overall health. As horses age, or struggle with other health issues, you might notice a dulling of the coat. For older horses, it’s a good idea anyway to do bloodwork to be sure all systems are good to go. This just gives you an inside peek into brewing issues that might be causing a dull coat.


  • BUT… a dull coat doesn’t necessarily mean your horse has worms or an improperly balanced diet, so it’s worth a conversation with your veterinarian about what you are noticing and how to go forward.


Things to do to brighten the coat 


  • Groom more, with clean grooming tools.  Nothing helps your horse’s natural shine do its job more than currying.  And weekly, or so, clean your grooming brushes. 


  • Supplements may be a good option for your horse.  Omega fatty acids and a vitamin and mineral balancer can help the overall skin health, and therefore, the coat. 


  • Add shine with products.  You can boost shine with sheen sprays, although some may be drying to your horse’s coat.  Oil buffing your horse is a fantastic way to curry more, add shine, condition the coat, and help your horse’s natural waterproofing. 


  • And more curry combing!  Again!




Clean your dang grooming brushes!

Oil buffing info

Tips for oil buffing your horse


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

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