Spring has sprung, and it’s time to remove your horses winter coat. That also means horse owners across the country are preparing for the annual coat shedding season! When it comes to losing those winter coats, there are several options available, and we often find ourselves asking:
What grooming tools are available?
What might suit my horse best?
And why is it important for my horse to have a “summer coat”?
In today’s blog we take a closer look….
Why should we care about the summer coat?
Just as we pack away the jackets and pull out the shorts and T-shirts for summer, horses too need to remove those winter layers. Australian summers are notorious for long hot days, and warm nights. A short summer coat allows the horse to regulate their body temperature to keep as cool as possible. The change in coat is triggered by photoperiods lengthening (coming into spring) or shortening (coming into autumn). A lengthening photoperiod will reduce the production of melatonin and begin to shed and shorten the coat. A horse’s coat should see changes between 5-8 weeks of a new photoperiod cycle.
The transition from winter to summer coat can be sped up with lots of hours grooming. Here are some of the most popular tools.
Curry Combs are something every horse owner has in their grooming kit! There are various types, including gloves and blocks. All perform the same job of removing loose hair and, importantly, massaging the skin, which promotes natural oils to give your horses coat its healthy shine. Curry combs, and their variations, can be made of rubber, silicone or plastic, which makes them particularly good for sensitive and thin-skinned horses, where shedders are a bit spikey! They can be also used wet if you are washing your horse, to help move the coat. Curry combs are most effective when used in circular motions. After use, you can clear out your curry comb with another brush, hoof pick or by hosing it out.
Traditional Curry Combs
Massage Style Curry Comb with longer, flat end teeth
Plastic Style Curry Comb Brush- combs or hoof picks are perfect for clearing out the hair in these
Block style curry comb, also handy for clearing hair out of rugs and saddlecloths
Rubber Grooming mitts can be easier to use!
Purpose made shedding blades are also extremely popular, especially for longer coats. Again, there are lots of different types, but most involve a metal blade with teeth which will grab at dead hair follicles and remove them. Care must be taken with these shedders, both for the user and the horse as, compared with the teeth on the rubber curry combs, these are much sharper! Shedders are often used at the start of the shedding season, and as the coat gets shorter, are swapped to softer curry combs, to protect the sensitive skin.
The traditional shedding blade, also used as a sweat scrapper on the blunt edge. They can be undone to be used as a straight blade or done up (as pictured) to use as a curved blade.
Variations of the Traditional single sided shedder, these have two sided blades and come in various shapes.
Equigroomer’s are a modern take on the shedding blade, putting it into a user-friendly block for ease of handling. The teeth in this product are much shorter, which can make it more gentle for sensitive skinned horses.
Grooming blocks take the ease of a handheld curry comb and combines it with a slightly firmer material, like the shedders. Commonly made of fiberglass, a grooming block removes hair, dust, and dirt, and promotes natural oils. They are often the choice for those who have large numbers of horses as they are quick and effective, each block servicing 10-12 horses.
Particularly for our ponies suffering from Cushing’s, sometimes their coat just won’t budge! To help keep them comfortable through summer, clipping is advised where possible. A local equine groomer can provide you with great advice and clipping services, when it comes to these tricky, sometimes thick, and curly, coats.
Written by Sharne Haskins