The horse’s coat, along with its skin, and hooves, is one of the indicators of the horse’s overall health. A shiny and smooth coat can mean that your horse is healthy. That is why, caring for it is considered a must. Showing extraordinaire Katie Jerram Hunnable, who has had the honour of riding and producing for HM the Queen for a number of years, shares her tips for a stunning shine below.
Shine from within
But first, let’s 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.
A healthy digestive system is the foundation of a healthy horse so start by making sure you are feeding enough forage. Ideally forage should be provided ad lib but if your horse is overweight, don’t feed less than 1.5% bodyweight (dry matter) per day. On average, this equates to approximately 9kg of hay (11kg if you are going to soak it) or 10-12kg of haylage for a 500kg horse without grazing.
Secondly, make sure your horse’s diet is balanced. Nutrient deficiencies can affect coat condition so providing your horse with a well-balanced diet is key to producing a healthy horse on the inside, as well as a lovely shiny coat on the outside. The best way to provide a balanced diet is to feed the recommended ration of a suitable compound feed or balancer.
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 and 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 can be the icing on the cake when it comes to conker-like shine with rapeseed, soya, corn and linseed oil all helping to provide an additional source of essential fatty acids. However if you are adding more than 100ml of oil per day you may also need to feed an additional vitamin E supplement. For this reason, choosing a feed such as Conditioning Fibre that already contains a higher level of oil and is balanced with vitamin E is often the most convenient option.
“I always feed SPILLERS as I can rely on the quality of the feed. I’ve been feeding Conditioning Fibre for years and know that my horses thrive on it. Being a high fibre and oil product, it helps to maintain digestive health which in turn helps them bloom from within“ says Katie.
There’s no substitute for grooming!
Whilst good nutrition is important, it’s not the only thing needed to achieve that ultimate show ring shine. Even after all these tips you still will need to get the body brush out and apply some elbow grease.
“Strapping your horse will help keep his coat mud and scurf free and stimulate blood flow, bringing all those coat enhancing nutrients to the hair follicles to produce a shine you can be proud of!” says Katie.
Going in circular motions to rub will bring the hair up, smoothing it out and bringing dead skin to the surface. Use a rub rag for this and then polish after dusting for best results. A good conditioner for bathing is also a really important investment. Buy one that will add shine and moisturise the horse’s coat but avoid those containing silicone.
Katie added “Don’t underestimate the importance of bonding time that a really good groom facilitates too!”.