One of the sure signs of good health in a horse is a bright, shiny coat. And if you plan to show your horse this summer, he should gleam like a new penny. You won’t bring home the ribbons if your horse’s coat looks scruffy and dull. Read on to find out how to bring out the bloom in your favorite horse’s coat.
Groom, groom, groom!
Regular grooming will help to bring out the shine in your horse’s coat. Grooming loosens dead hair and brings up dirt and dandruff to the coat surface so you can brush it off. It also stimulates the horse’s natural coat oils which will result in a shiny and healthy horse.
You should groom your horse several times a week. Begin with a rubber curry comb and use it in a circular motion all over his neck, back, sides, rump and flank area. Using a curry comb is like giving your horse a massage. Don’t be too rough with it though. Some horses have thin coats and need gentle brushing.
Brush away the loose hair and dandruff with a dandy brush. Start at your horse’s neck and work your way to his tail. Remember to brush off his legs. A dandy brush may be too stiff for your horse’s face and sensitive areas, so once you’re done with it, grab a soft body brush and put it to work.
A body brush brings up the coat shine and swishes away the dust the dandy brush has left behind. Use a body brush on your horse’s face and ears.
A horse needs to be fed properly if you want his coat to sparkle. He needs the proper amount of feed for the amount of work he’s doing, his body type and where he lives. You need to talk to your vet or the equine nutrition expert at your local feed store to develop an appropriate feeding plan for your horse.
Most concentrated feeds (pellets and sweet feed) contain fat and horses need fat in their diets to produce enough oil in their skin. This oil is what makes a coat shine.
You can also add a coat-shine supplement to his feed. These supplements usually contain Omega 3 fatty acids found in flax seed and fish oil or Omega 6 fatty acids found in rice bran. These supplements usually come in powder or oil form. Just mix them into your horse’s daily feed.
If you have a large, cool, well-ventilated stall, you can keep your horse inside during the day and out of the sun during the summer months. Make sure he has plenty of water to drink and hay to munch on, and he might need a fan to keep him cool.
Horses don’t like being inside by themselves, so you’ll have to bring in a pasture pal to keep him company. You’ll also have to make sure there’s lots of clean bedding in the stall so he’s comfortable if he lies down.
The summer sun can bleach a horse’s dark coat making it look dry and dull. After a few days in the glaring summer sun, your shiny bay horse may look like a buckskin.
If your horse stays outside every day, invest in a fly sheet that blocks ultra-violet rays and his coat will stay darker and shinier. Slip it on him every morning and take it off at night. You can buy a fly sheet that covers his neck as well too.
Spray it on
If you’re going to a show and you want your horse to look extra shiny, you can use a spray-on shine product on him. You can buy these shine sprays at the local equine supply store or order them from a catalog or online.
You spray the shine on your horse and then brush him or buff him with a clean cloth. These products help to keep dust from building up on your horse so he stays cleaner for longer.
Don’t spray the product where the saddle goes or you might find your saddle and pad slipping on show day.
Take note that some show organizers, for example 4-H clubs, may not allow coat shine products, so make sure you find out if they’re allowed before you use them. Some organizations want you to make your horse shine the old fashioned way—by grooming him!