This time of year is definitely transitionary – many equines’ coats are now moulting – and we know the cooler weather is coming, along with the regulatory clipping and rugging! But we don’t have to designate autumn as a season for scurfy horse coats, or dull, lacklustre skin. With a little care, we can still ensure our horses and ponies are looking good as winter approaches.
Healthy equine coats
Firstly, let’s look at what we need for a healthy coat – it actually starts on the inside, as the horse’s diet can influence all areas of health. Here are some of the key areas of nutrition that affect equine coat and skin health:
Essential fatty acids (EFAs): These fats must come from the diet; fresh grass has a good fat content of 3% to 5% fat, with sixty per cent of the fatty acids in grass being omega-3s. Omega-6 fats notably help boost skin health.
Protein: Protein is a key element of all body tissue, which of course includes skin, hooves and cartilage. Protein helps boost skin condition and elasticity.
Lecithin: Another key ingredient to look out for is Lecithin, which supplies phospholipids, major components of cell membranes. Lecithin helps maintain healthy skin and coat colour.
Digestive aids: A healthy equine gut promotes overall health, so make sure your horse’s diet is fibre-rich.
Compounds such as yeasts and microbial feed supplements with probiotics boost gut micro-flora.
Vitamins and minerals: Certain vitamins are specifically known to help boost coat health, particularly Biotin, and Vitamins A and B6.
Once you have got your horse’s diet right, your bathing and grooming will make a real difference!
Start with a great equine shampoo. We love the Wahl Oatmeal Shampoo – manufactured by the famous clipping manufacturers, this cleansing product will gently remove dirt, grease, stains and odours, helping to reduce skin equine skin irritation. It contains Oat Protein to soothe sensitive horsey skin, plus Coconut extract and Sweet Almond Oil to moisturise.
Obviously you don’t want to be bathing and washing your horse and pony when it is too cold.
Choose a mild day, use warm water and make sure the horse has dried off before he’s exercised or turned out.
Try a moisture wicking rug, like the smart Whitaker Holywell Fleece Rug (4ft 9-7ft).
An interesting product if you’re competing in autumn (maybe at indoor eventing or horse trials contests, or if you’re going autumn hunting); is AlvaGleam Coat Gloss Finnish.
This is a finishing product – so it is for used on the day of competition.
It’s packed with essential oils that even repel any lurking flies.
As the horse or pony’s coat is drying, you can polish it with a cloth or sponge!
But because it’s conditioning as well as glossing, AlvaGleam is very good for the horse’s coat, infusing it with natural oils.
A fab little product that you will find endless uses for is the Wahl Pet Pocket Pro Mini Trimmer – it’s a seven piece, battery powered grooming tool that offers an easy way to trim around the equine’s eyes, ears, elbow or feather areas, without shaving the horse or pony’s hair completely off. To trim the length you want, just choose the relevant attachment. This fits nicely in the hand so is ideal for head-shy horses and ponies – it is also great for use on dogs too.
Finish off your grooming with a generous spray of AlvaBarrier Mud & Rain Protector. This product combines essential oils with a unique coat conditioner, and boasts Aloe Vera for skin-care. It’s ideal to help keep mud at bay, and repels mud and dirt from the body, not just the horse or pony’s lower legs.