To Clip or Not?
If your horse is clipped, the last clip of the season should be done before the summer coat starts to come through – otherwise this could be ruined. Depending on the individual, a general guide is to make your last clip before mid-February.
Showing experts often do not clip at all, or perform a full clip so there are no ‘lines’ for early spring shows. If your horse is very slow to shed his winter coat, it may be worth considering making your last clip a full one – but ensure you provide extra rugs to compensate.
Warmth and Light
Appropriate rugging, especially in the autumn before the winter coat develops, can help to stimulate a shorter, less woolly winter coat – although some individuals, especially those with native blood, will always be furrier in the winter. Ensure rugs fit well, as rub marks will always spoil a good coat.
Controlling day length is a somewhat unusual, but scientifically proven management technique to affect coat growth. The pineal gland in the base of the brain relies on light stimulation to trigger seasonal hair growth. By providing 16 hours per day of light using 150-200 watt bulbs, this gland is ‘tricked’ into believing it is summer and the horse produces a summer coat. Appropriate rugging must also be used to compensate for lack of winter woollies.
Old Fashioned Elbow Grease
Do not under estimate the influence of grooming – not just for dirt removal, but a thorough grooming to stimulate the skin. Regular use of a rubber curry comb followed by a body brush, will remove dirt and skin debris from the coat, remove loose hairs and stimulate sebaceous glands to produce oil to give your horse a healthy shine. Also – remember to keep grooming tools and rugs clean.
Clean conditioner sprays are not a substitute for good grooming but are, however, invaluable for detangling tails and long manes - -wash the hair, add conditioner and leave to dry, then tease out the tangles with your hand – much better than breaking the hairs using a brush or comb.
Dreaded Sweet Itch
Don’t let your efforts to produce a beautiful coat go to waste. If your horse or pony is prone to sweet itch, act now – and start to think about bringing in to place your normal summer management, such as use of fly rugs and stocking up with fly repellants. Be ready before the midges start to bite – as prevention is always the best way to try to manage sweet itch.