For horse owners, a gleaming well-conditioned horse is the ultimate badge of honour but it’s not just about hours of grooming! Here’s our top tips for achieving that ‘HOYS under the lights’ gleam…
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.
Next step – nutrition!
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 (10kg 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 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 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.
Providing a balanced diet
The best way to provide a balanced diet is to feed the recommended ration of a suitable compound feed or balancer. Balancers provide a concentrated source of quality protein, vitamins and minerals without excess calories, making them the ideal option horses and ponies that maintain weight easily on forage alone (or less than the recommended ration of feed).
Oil doesn’t always have to come in a bottle!
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 that already contains a higher level of oil and is balanced with vitamin E is often the most convenient option.
There’s no substitute for grooming!
Finally don’t be fooled, even 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 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!
For more advice on feeding a balanced diet contact the SPILLERS Care-Line.