Weekend Wellness: Speeding up the Shedding Process

Spring is here. You know what that means? That’s right. Shedding season also is here. 


Spring has sprung. The days are getting longer. The daffodils are beginning to sprout. The cherry blossoms are blooming. The birds are making more noise than they have in months. Our allergies are acting up. Oh, and our horses are shedding enough hair to make a second horse on a seemingly daily basis. Want to move the process along? Here are three sure-fire ways to get your horse to shed out a little faster.

1. Let your horse get plenty of exercise. That’s right, exercise increases blood flow, gets a horse sweating and increases the flow of sebum, the oily secretion of the sebaceous glands that goes directly into the hair follicle. If you give your a horse a light workout — either by lunging or riding — and let him sweat a little bit, it can encourage your horse to shed out more quickly — especially if you let him roll afterward and then groom him. Rolling is one of the ways a horse can groom itself. If you follow this with your own grooming session, the hair will release more quickly.

2. Manage your horse’s health. A horse’s overall health can also affect its ability shed out appropriately. A horse with a metabolic issue such as PPID (Cushing’s Disease), low thyroid function or parasitism will not shed out as quickly as a healthy horse. The same goes for a horse in poor general health. That’s why its important to stay on top of your horse’s health, manage its issues if it has any and work with a good equine vet.

3. Make sure your horse is getting good nutrition. Nutrition plays a vital role in your horse’s health. In order for horses to generate an adequate amount of sebum to encourage shedding and make them shine, they need to be getting a sufficient supply of nutrients. During the winter especially, horses may not get what they need to encourage shedding in the spring. What can you do to promote good health and, as a result, a quick shed? Make sure your horse is getting enough of the following:

  • Fat. Dry forage has only have the fat content of fresh grass. Without fat, horses can’t make sebum as easily, so they don’t shed as quickly.
  • Vitamin A. This is a critical nutrient for the skin, hair follicles and sebaceous glands to function normally. Its quantity typically is low in preserved forages, which can lead to a deficiency in winter.
  • Biotin. We know that biotin is good fo hooves, but it’s also good for skin and hair follicles. Although horses seem to produce enough B vitamins on their own, biotin is one that may be lacking.
  • Zinc. Zinc is required for the rapid cell division that is needed to produce a new coat and it’s responsible for the production of adequate levels of the pigment melanin in dark coats. However, zinc also is deficient in most forages world wide.
  • Protein and amino acids. Hair is 95% protein, so producing a summer coat is dependent on a horse getting enough protein and essential amino acids. Fresh grass is high in the protein that dry hay often lacks.

Nutritionally, if you want to help your horse shed out and keep a healthy coat, the best thing you can do is to get your hay tested, analyze your horse’s nutrition and supplement where necessary. This is true not only for shedding, but also for your horse’s general well-being.

Good luck with shedding season. We hope yours goes by relatively quickly and that you remember not to chew gum while grooming your shedding horse.

Go riding!