The coat change of our horses
Twice a year, the coat change is due for our horses. In autumn they lose their summer coat and in spring their winter coat.
How does my horse know when to change his coat?
Haven't you ever wondered why your horse sheds a lot of fur in September, even though it's often still over 20 degrees during the day? Or why it already loses a lot of fur in February, although it is still lousy cold outside? In former times one still thought, it is connected with the temperature differences. Today we know that this process has much more to do with daylight.
The pineal gland plays an important role here. It is a hormone that is directly connected to the brain. Horses perceive the changes in daylight through it. This gland has very important tasks. It is responsible for the production of melatonin and thus controls the sleep-wake rhythm, reproduction and the change of coat. So when the days get longer in January, the pineal gland passes on the information that winter will soon be over and the coat should slowly fall off. In August, in turn, it passes on the information that winter is not too much longer in coming.
Of course, temperatures also play an important role. If these fluctuate strongly, they can inhibit or accelerate the change of coat. They also influence the length and density of the coat. Robust horses that live in open stables have much denser coats than horses that are kept in boxes.
How long does the coat change last?
The duration of a coat change can vary greatly from horse to horse. However, the change from winter to summer coat is much longer. Several weeks pass before the entire coat is shed. With the summer coat it goes much faster. The fine hairs are relatively quickly down and the denser fur grows evenly. If the first cold nights come, the horses quickly shed more coat.
The change of coat is a strenuous procedure for our darlings. The metabolism runs at full speed. If the horses are then exposed to strong temperature fluctuations, it can be really exhausting for some. Especially when it is very warm, they sweat a lot as they struggle with thermoregulation. It's not uncommon for horses to be powerless during this phase. If we had to do sports in snowsuits, we also would have problems. We simply have the advantage of being able to adapt our clothing to the temperatures.
Tips on how to support your horse during the change of coat:
- Be aware that this process can be very stressful for your horse. Therefore, it is important to be understanding if your favorite does not perform as well as you might be used to.
- If your horse is breaking down quickly, increase his feed rations.
- In addition, you can support your horse with various herbs or feed supplements. There are many products on the market that are precisely tailored to this. Get advice from the feed supplier of your choice.
- Groom your horse every day. The loose hairs itch on the skin. It itches even worse when horses are tucked in, as the hair then cannot fall off simply by shaking.
Maybe you didn't know a thing or two about the change of coat, but now your horse can know that he is in the best of hands with you! What are your experiences with the change of coat? Feel free to write us a comment.