What to do when your horse is not shedding

 

It’s such a knee-jerk reaction to answering “Why is your horse not shedding” with a simple “They have Cushing’s,” but it might not be that simple. Your horse is not shedding, or is slow to shed, for one of many reasons – time to detective it up and get to the root cause when you notice the day length is increasing and your horse is stiff fuzzy.

 
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Talk to your vet when your horse is slow to shed or not shedding:

 

 

  • PPID works on the horse’s pituitary gland to create an abundance of hormones, including cortisol. As PPID causes cortisol levels to rise, the cortisol tells the horse to grow a thick coat and not shed.

 

  • Does every horse with PPID have a wildly thick coat? NOPE. Does every horse with a fuzzy hair coat that doesn’t shed well have PPID? NOPE. Only some blood work can tell.

 

What health concerns are associated with a horse not shedding?

 

  • A horse not shedding can become difficult to thermoregulate and may overheat easily, especially as the weather gets warmer. An equine veterinarian can help determine if slow shedding indicates hormonal imbalances, Cushing’s disease, or poor nutrition.

 

very fuzzy neck on a horse

That’s a lot of winter coat.

 

Other reasons why your equine buddy is not shedding so well:

 

  • Um, how to say this nicely…not enough grooming. Most animals will eventually shed their coats on their own. You can help! Lots of grooming removes loosened hair, stimulates the skin, and spreads those natural oils called sebum around the coat.

 

  • Not enough exercise. There’s some school of thought that exercise increases blood flow to the skin to the point of helping their coat shed. Have I found irrefutable evidence to support this? No. But I suppose if your horse is getting some exercise, you are out there grooming which should help!

 

  • There is not enough light. Animals are triggered to start the shedding process as the hours of daylight increase. Horses housed in dark stalls for extended daylight hours may not be stimulated enough to start shedding, or there is not enough artificial light to trigger a shed.

 

  • A horse with some types of eye issues might also face a similar situation – their brain isn’t registering enough light. This is the case when the photoreceptors in the eye are damaged and a horse can’t detect light very well.

 

  • In some climates, the weather may warm up long before the lightness extends, so it may seem like it takes forever to shed.

 

flax for horses

Feeding flax is a tasty and affordable way to help your horse’s skin and coat. 

 

Address your horse’s nutrition – including Omega’s, copper, and zinc for the horse not shedding

 

 

  • How’s the nutrition plan? Genetics and nutrition account for many things; at least we can help with nutrition. Definitely boost your shoe’s Omega-3 fatty acids to help jump-start a healthy new hair coat. This article has some great tips for a shedding-friendly diet for your horse: https://thehorse.com/157065/can-nutrition-help-a-horse-shed/

 

  • Trace minerals, especially copper and zinc, are critical for a healthy hair coat. These minerals are specifically related to how color is deposited in the hair shaft. Copper and zinc also work with keratin to make hair that is elastic, strong, and narrow in diameter.

 

 

horse clippers going through gray horse winter coat

You can, and should, body clip as the weather warms up for the slow to shed horse.

 

How to help your extra wooly horse be more comfortable.

 

  • Exercise, grooming, nutrition – check.

 

  • Consider clipping your horse. There are plenty of horses out there that need to be clipped all year long for their comfort, not vanity. For especially dense and long coats, consider using a shear-type of clipper to have enough power to mow through that hair. These styles are also much faster than the smaller body clippers, although it’s much more of a rough clip. You can touch up later. 

 

Check out the complete guide to clipping your horse for all sorts of tips. 

 

  • Give your horse sandy places to roll. Let them exfoliate and shed themselves! Brushes mounted on posts also help your horse self-groom.

 

  • Bathe your horse. The sheer act of lathering and scrubbing will loosen up a ton of hair, and just let the hose do the sweeping away of loose hair.

 

  • Get creative with your grooming tools – I love the gloves, and vacuums help, too. Tried a cactus cloth? They offer a way to get the hair out and buff in some shine while you are at it.

 

grooming gloves on clipped horse with a few loose hairs

So. Very. Satisfying.

 

What doesn’t work when a horse is not shedding

 

  • Sticking your head in the sand. A horse that doesn’t shed needs some attention! Call the vet, do a quick blood test, adjust some meds if you already know your horse has PPID, and carry on.

 

  • Ignoring elbow grease when your horse is not shedding. There are super wonderful tools out there to help you groom your horse into a shiny summer coat – you may need to use them a few times a day.

 

  • Don’t add blankets. They will only make your horse hot and uncomfortable and won’t help the horse that is slow to shed. It’s the light – not the temperature – that signals shedding.

 

 

And thank goodness for the time change and warmer weather!

 

 

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Go shopping! 

 

Click these links to shop for horse supplies. 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.

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SHAPLEY'S Medi-Care Med Shampoo W/Tea Tree & Lemon Grass, 32 oz
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Electric Cleaner Co Rapid Groom Horse Vacuum
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You can also visit my Amazon storefront here:  PEG storefront.

Shires Cactus Cloth
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Farnam Slick 'N Easy Horse Grooming Block
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Electric Cleaner Co Rapid Groom Horse Vacuum
$605.00 ($605.00 / Count)

It's always satisfying to vacuum your horse!

04/10/2024 01:46 pm GMT
HANDSON Pet Grooming Gloves - Grooming, Bathing, Shedding
$24.99 $16.99

These are HandsOn Gloves with special pricing! Only in the color gray.

03/29/2024 08:24 pm GMT
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 Easy-Out No Rinse Shampoo 32 fl.oz
$16.23

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Shapley's No.2 Heavy Oil
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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
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The best shampoo for shine and soothing.

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Shapley's No.1 Light Oil
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For dark bays, black points, and black horses

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Farnam Excalibur Sheath Cleaner 16 OUNCE
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Magic Sheen Spray 1Qt
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Shapley's Easy-Out No Rinse Shampoo 32 fl.oz
$16.23

Spot removing, deodorizing, dust busting, shine adding spray.

03/10/2024 05:27 pm GMT
Shapley's Hi Shine Shampoo, 1-Gallon
$49.99 $41.87

Other sizes, too! Adds shine with the most gentle formula.

03/11/2024 02:47 pm GMT
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.

03/11/2024 08:33 pm GMT
Rubber Latex Waterproof Dishwashing Gloves, 2 Pair Medium Long Cuff
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It's fashion and function

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Shapley’s 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo - Whitening Formula
$23.49 $21.03

For all colors - to add shine and help lift stains.

03/10/2024 06:53 pm GMT
Shapley's Equitone 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, GOLD
$23.03

Brighten duns, palominos, and golden colors.

03/10/2024 07:17 pm GMT
SHAPLEY'S 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, RED
$27.05 $24.75

For chestnuts and some bays

03/10/2024 06:57 pm GMT
Shapley's 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, BLACK
$23.49 $20.64

For dark bays, black points, and black horses

03/10/2024 06:48 pm GMT
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4 Pairs Exfoliating Gloves
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HANDSON Pet Grooming Gloves - Grooming, Bathing, Shedding
$24.99 $16.99

These are HandsOn Gloves with special pricing! Only in the color gray.

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Thank you!