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  • Coastal Equine

Managing Your Horse’s Winter Coat

by Kat Chrysostom, Owner of Benefab Products

This post originated from Benefab

Even in warmer areas, horses grow some sort of winter coat. It's natural for horses to grow thicker coats when the days get shorter and cooler. Nature protects them from elements, usually with a coat to match the climate. Extra hair keeps them safe and warm during these colder months. Even though the temperatures are cooler, horses at times sweat more than they do during the warmer months because their coats are thicker. They continue to sweat after exercise because that thick hair, which is designed to keep them warm, retains more heat. Therefore, they don’t cool down as quickly.

Many of us want to ride and keep our horses exercised. However, a thick winter coat makes cleaning and grooming much more difficult. Following exercise, horses need to be thoroughly cleaned to remove any residual dirt and sweat. Unfortunately, it’s often too cold out to wash them. If we do wash them, it takes an eternity for them to dry and we don’t want them to get a chill.

We thought we’d bring you some tips on how to manage your horse’s winter coat this year.

Check them out below!

Currying and Brushing: Daily currying and brushing will do wonders for reducing grime that builds up in your horse’s coat. The curry comb works to lift dust and dirt so you can brush it away with a hard or soft brush after. It also stimulates the skin, which improves circulation, too.

Clipping: Depending on your riding habits you may want to consider clipping your horse. A complete body clip is generally done if you are showing your horse indoors. A trace clip or hunter clip for if you want your horse to have a bit of a winter coat for warmth, but also be able cool down faster after a rigorous ride. It is recommended that you get the appropriate blanket for your horse if it has any type of clip.

Vacuum: A grooming vacuum can quickly and easily pull dust and dirt from a thick winter coat. Just curry to loosen debris and vacuum away. No amount of flicking a brush can compare to using a vacuum, but not all horses will tolerate this.

Spot Cleaning: If you noticed your horses coat gathering dust, you can always use warm water to give a quick sponge bath.

Tidier Tails: If your horse goes into winter with a clean tail, you can help keep it that way by using a commercial tail bag. You can also protect it with a braid: divide the hair into three sections. Wrap each in a long, narrow strip of torn bed sheet, and then braid the sections together. At the end of the tail, continue braiding the remaining sheets for a few inches, then tie them off in a knot.

Trimming: The fetlocks may trap and accumulate dirt while spending time outdoors. Keeping the fur and hair on the fetlocks trimmed or clipped will keep these areas clean and help reduce the chance of scratches. Scratches (also known as greasy heel or pastern dermatitis), develops from a combination of wet mud and dry dirt coupled with bacteria, a fungus, or parasites. Keeping your horse’s fetlocks clean and dry significantly reduces the possibility of this condition that can take months to cure.

Maintain Hoof Health: Mud/manure-packed hooves provide the ideal environment for thrush. Clean your horse’s feet daily. Also keep an eye out for thrush, an infection common in the winter. Applying a thrush remedy to the sole for a few days should quickly eliminate the problem.

Keeping your horse clean through the winter not only keeps him looking good, but it’s essential for his health.

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