Every spring, horse owners both rejoice at and dread the first signs of shedding season. While your hairy horse finally shedding out means that spring is almost here, it also means that most of that hair will inevitably end up on you. These tips can help you to successfully navigate shedding season and get your horse back to looking sleek and stunning.
4 Must-Know Shedding Season Tips
From minimizing the hair that gets on your clothes to getting great grooming results, these tips can help you to survive shedding season.
Take Advantage of the Light
The natural light changes that occur as we get closer to spring are what prompt your horse to start shedding. Look for ways that you can expose your horse to the longer daylight hours. Maximizing turnout time can help, and leaving your barn doors and windows open also allows that natural light to reach your horse when he's in his stall.
You can also artificially replicate longer daylight hours by using the lights in your barn. Leaving lights on later and turning them on earlier can trick your horse's body into thinking we're closer to spring and summer, encouraging him to fully shed out. If you use this technique, you'll need to create a strong light and will likely need to blanket your horse as he sheds out, especially if temperatures are still cool in your area.
Use the Right Tools
The right tools can help to make the shedding out process easier on both you and your horse. Make sure that your grooming kit contains curry combs and shedding blades. There are many additional products you might want to try, like grooming gloves, which can capture hair and which deliver a nice scratching sensation that your horse may appreciate. Shedding blades are available in all sorts of designs, so experiment to see what works best for your horse.
Our current favorite shedding tool that we use on our horses is the Strip Hair Gentle Groomer, it's also good for caked on mud and cannon bone crud.
An equine vacuum can be particularly helpful during shedding season. Rather than toss the loose hair into the air, a vacuum helps to contain it, so less of it lands on you. Try using the vacuum with one hand while you curry with the other.
Clipping your horse can also help. Clipping can make your horse instantly look neater and reducing the amount of long hair that sheds out, ideal if you have early season shows to get ready for. A trace clip can help to reduce sweating during rides if your horse is slow to shed out. If your horse has a thick, heavy coat that's gradually shedding out, it may be easier to body clip him. (This can also be a symptom of metabolic disorders, so if this is new for your horse, be sure to discuss this gradual shedding with your vet.) If you do decide to clip your horse, be sure to have a blanket on hand for those occasional chilly nights.
When the weather's warm enough, try giving your horse a bath, complete with a deep scrubbing. This can help to pull loose hair to the surface without sending it flying into the air.
Horse hair can cling to your clothes, so dress appropriately before each grooming session. Keep a raincoat or windbreaker on hand so you can toss it on over your clothes when grooming. If you do get lots of hair on your clothes, try to wash them separately from your other laundry so you can thoroughly clean out the washing machine after.
Install Scratching Posts
If your horse gets itchy during shedding season, he may appreciate a scratching post in his paddock. You can purchase rubber textured panels designed just for this purpose. Install them in your horse's stall or wrap them around a post or a corner of the barn to let your horse easily scratch those annoying itchy spots. This has the added benefit of helping to remove loose hair.
Dealing with shedding season requires some extra work and extra cleanup, but these tips can make it easier. Just remember - shedding season means spring is right around the corner!