March marks the end of summer in the southern hemisphere and soon we will begin to see the leaves change as we head into autumn. Unfortunately, we’re also about to see our horse’s coats change too!
Whilst our horses’ winter coats serve some very important roles, it can be a lot harder for horse owners to manage over the colder months. To help you keep your horses comfortable and looking their best, here are some of our top tips for managing your “hairy ponies” this winter.
Have you ever heard someone say that putting extra rugs on your horse will help prevent their winter coat from growing too thick? Interestingly enough, the main factor that determines when your horse’s coat changes are actually daylight! The length of the day and number of hours that the horse spends exposed to light is what tells our horse’s bodies to shed or grow their coat. In winter we have shorter days, while during the peak of summer, the sun doesn’t set until 9 o’clock at night.
If you’re planning to ride your horse regularly over the winter months, a thick, long coat can be difficult to manage. Exercise, combined with a winter coat can make your horse easily soaked with sweat, and washing them isn’t always an option in cold temperatures. A thick coat can take a long time to dry and we don’t want to turn our horses out wet and cold!
Horse Coat Maintenance Tips
There are a couple of options you could try with your horse to tackle this problem, depending on your preference:
Clipping your horse's coat
Whilst clipping can be a big job, it will make the grooming and washing process a lot quicker and easier for the rest of the season, plus your horse won’t get as hot during exercise or training. If you decide to clip your horse, it’s important that you replace their natural coat with a warm rug for times when the temperature dips. If you don’t feel like your horse needs a full clip, you can alternatively try a trace, hunter, or blanket clip.
Stabling your horse under lights
The second option is to stable your horses at night in the lead-up to winter, leaving the lights on in the stable a little longer after sunset and turning back on a little earlier than sunrise, to emulate the length of a summer day. This tricks your horse’s body into thinking it’s summer and they’re less likely to grow a long, thick coat. Again, it’s very important to ensure your horse is adequately rugged in place of their own winter hair.
Keeping it natural
Some people prefer to leave their horse’ coat completely natural over winter, in all their fluffy glory! If this is what you decide to do, there are also some simple ways to combat a dry, rough, or unruly coat. You can condition your horse’s winter coat with a coat conditioner, like our Hairy Pony Essential Oil Coat Conditioner, which conditions the hair and skin, maintains hydration, and promotes suppleness of the hair. The all-natural ingredients in our coat conditioner are known for their intense nourishment, as well as anti-fungal properties, to treat dry, itchy, or rough skin.
A variety of quality brushes will also be your best friend when it comes to managing winter fluff! Regular brushing not only feels nice for your horse but also keeps on top of knots or matting in the hair. Grooming tools like our Hairy Pony Grooming Block, help to remove extra hair your horse may be shedding and will help them shift unwanted hair, dirt, or dandruff.
Whichever way you choose to tackle your horse’s coat this winter, we wish you a happy season of fun riding and adventures with your hairy ponies!