Just like a new car or a sparkly diamond ring we are all drawn to shiny things and I don’t think horses are any different! A gleaming well-conditioned horse is the ultimate badge of honour for us as horse owners, but it’s not just about hours of grooming!
The biggest influence on coat condition is your horse’s overall health so it pays to start with the basics; think about his worming programme, his teeth and his general health status. If you need any advice on these aspects of his management speak to your vet. Then it’s time to turn to nutrition…..
Firstly make sure you are feeding enough forage as this is the foundation of a healthy digestive tract which is in turn the foundation of a healthy horse. Ideally forage should be provided ad lib especially if your horse is not overweight but not less than 15g (dry matter) per kilo bodyweight. The second dietary consideration is ensuring your horse’s diet is fully balanced. Nutrient deficiencies can affect coat condition so providing your horse with a well-balanced diet is the key to producing a healthy horse on the inside as well as a lovely shiny coat on the outside. Some of the powerhouse nutrients when it comes to coat condition include:
- Good quality protein particularly sulphur-containing amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) such as methionine are important for hair production.
- Vitamin E deficiency, vitamin A deficiency or excess, can result in a long, scruffy-looking coat.
- Inadequate amounts of trace minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium and copper may also influence coat quality, growth and spring shedding.
- Oil also plays an important role.
On a practical note the best way to ensure your horse is getting a balanced diet is to feed a good quality compound feed at the recommended level for your horse’s size and workload. If your horse doesn’t required the recommended amount in order to maintain his condition opt for a balancer as this will supply good quality protein alongside the vitamins and minerals he needs without unnecessary calories.
Oil is your show ring friend….
Whilst it’s important to ensure you are feeding a balanced diet before you reach for the oil bottle it can be the icing on the cake then it comes to conker like shine. Horses’ diets typically contain 2-3% oil so feeding additional soya, rapeseed, corn or linseed oil can help to provide an extra source of essential fatty acids for that ‘HOYS under the lights’ gleam.
Remember oil doesn’t always have to come in a bottle! In an ideal world if you are adding more than 100ml of oil it should be added alongside extra vitamin E making the most convenient way to incorporate it into your horse’s diet choosing a feed that already contains it. SPILLERS Conditioning Fibre is 10% oil and can be added alongside a balancer, a compound feed or fed on so that your horse can Dine & Shine in the show ring.
Finally don’t be fooled after all these tips you still will need to get the body brush out and apply some elbow grease. Brushing your horse will help keep his coat mud and scruff free and will stimulate blood flow bringing all those coat enhancing nutrients to the hair follicles to produce a shine you can be proud of!