As horse owners we spend endless hours brushing and washing to achieve that perfect shine whether its for a competition or just to keep them looking great. However, achieving a healthy coat is not just up to the grooming, nutrition can also play an important role.
A dull coat can be due to various issues, firstly consider the basics such as teeth, overall health and parasitic burdens. Some parasites can lead to a poor condition and dull coats; performing a faecal egg count will help identify if this is a contributing factor. Protein, vitamin and mineral imbalances can also contribute to overall coat health.
Hair grows from follicles in the dermis layer of the skin and is composed mostly of protein, specifically keratin. The sebaceous gland secretes an oil substance, sebum, which provides protection and helps lay the hair flat. Over use of shampoos can remove the protective sebum substance and expose the hair and skin leading to a dull and dry coat.
So, How can Nutrition Help?
All diets should be based on good quality forage, providing a minimum of 1.5% of body weight in forage per day. Additional supplementation to the diet may be required depending on the workload and status of the horse. A balanced diet is key, Bluegrass Stamm 30 balancer provides horses with the key nutrients without additional calories. Stamm 30 can also be found within a range of the Bluegrass Horse Feed products.
Some of the key nutrients to consider when looking at hair growth include copper, zinc, biotin, fatty acids, vitamin A, D and E and proteins (specifically methionine). Excessive levels of selenium have the well-known characteristic of mane and tail hair loss. Toxicity of selenium is a good example of how nutrient imbalances can affect hair growth.
Fatty acids Omega 3 and 6 are commonly found in commercial feeds for increasing the energy density of the diet. They are also important for good coat health, promoting the production of sebum. Additional fats and oils in horses’ diets have been associated for years with a healthy coat shine. Bluegrass Flax Plus contains flaxseed and Equi-Jewl (a stabilised rice bran), promoting overall condition, joint health, coat health and supporting the immune system. Remember though, when feeding a higher fat diet this will increase the calorie content and encourage weight gain.
Don’t put those brushes away yet! Regular grooming is still important to encourage blood circulation, and along with a balanced diet and overall health care, you’re on your way to achieving that perfect shine to impress the judges.