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What to do for a horse with a dull coat?

A nice shiny coat with dapples... we all want that for our horse! But reality is sometimes a lot duller. What can you do about it? In spring, horses lose their old winter fur and a shiny soft summer coat emerges from underneath. At least, in an ideal scenario. Sometimes horses 'Moult badly' or the new coat does not turn out as nice and shiny as hoped.


While it can be quite convenient to wash your horse or use an anti-clit product in mane or tail, shampoos and shine sprays are not the real solution if you want your horse to shine nicely. As the saying goes, "True beauty comes from within." And that also applies to the horse's coat! A shine spray will not solve the problem of a dull coat. Your horse must be healthy inside, then that shiny coat will naturally follow.

Moulting badly

A horse that hasn’t come out of its winter fur very nicely, or has some dull hair, thereby shows that it is not quite 100% right in its skin. Literally. A dull coat can be the result of poorer resistance or a mineral deficiency. Reduced resistance, for instance, can give fungus a chance, making your horse's skin unhealthier and its coat less beautiful. And with a mineral deficiency such as silicon, for example, the hair will not grow out as strongly as you’d like. Your horse's digestion also affects its coat. Because minerals and vitamins are not absorbed properly, for instance, or because a deregulated sugar metabolism causes sweet itch.

A strong coat with silicon

Silicon is an important mineral for your horse. It ensures that the body itself produces the necessary building materials for hair, hooves, tendons, ligaments and joints. Highly absorbable hydrolysed silicon increases the production of collagen. This is an important building material for your horse's coat. When your horse receives easily absorbable silicon, the coat will become more beautiful, thicker and shinier. But... this takes a bit of patience. The effect has been studied in humans, and there the researchers saw a clear effect on the quality and growth of nails and hair after 20 weeks. Women with thin hair saw an improvement in the quality and thickness of their hair. Silicon also provides a healthier coat in another way. In fact, it helps with copper deficiency. A copper deficiency can be the cause of your horse's poor coat health. How does silicon help with this? Minerals often have complex interactions with each other. Silicon is a kind of basic mineral, ensuring that the absorption of other important minerals runs smoothly. Copper is an example of this. Aluminium counteracts copper, so if a horse has too much aluminium in its body, copper is not absorbed as well and a deficiency can occur. To get rid of aluminium, give silicon, which restores the copper balance. And when enough copper is available, your horse can regain its ability to get out of its hair! It sounds complicated, but it all starts, then, with enough silicon. Read here more about what Silicon can do for a mineral deficiency

Salmon oil for a shiny coat

If you want your horse to have a shiny coat, omega fatty acids are also important. Salmon oil is rich in omega 3 (EPA and DHA). Salmon oil has the best ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 of all oils available to horses, namely 6:1. Thanks to these fatty acids from salmon oil, horses get a shiny coat and less hair loss. The fatty acids also help with dry or sensitive skin. And strange but true, horses also like salmon oil!

Metabolism in good order

Because many coat problems arise from allergic reactions, such as those to the gnats that cause sweet itch, it is generally a good idea to keep your horse's metabolism as good as possible. That means that the conversion of nutrients is going well, that there is no accumulation of sugars and no unnecessary waste. After the winter, you can give your horse a week of nettle extract with its feed to cleanse the body naturally. Often the coat also brightens up from this, even if there is some fungus or itching. If your horse is prone to sugars, the Indian herbal mixture triphala can be supportive.

Don't focus on a dull/shiny coat!

The coat is an indication of the horse's health, but it does not say everything! Yes, there are nutrients that can make your horse's coat shine beautifully. But that is no indication that your horse is actually healthier than one with a dull coat. Want to know more about this? Then read this blog about how a shiny coat does not always say something about a horse's health.   Sources: Barel, A., Calomme, M., Timchenko, A. et al. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin. Arch Dermatol Res 297, 147–153 (2005). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16205932 Wickett, R.R., Kossmann, E., Barel, A. et al. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. Arch Dermatol Res 299, 499–505 (2007).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17960402 The copper-iron chronicles: The story of an intimate relationship. Biometals March 2003, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 9-40. Domingo JL, Gómez M, Colomina MT. Oral silicon supplementation: an effective therapy for preventing oral aluminum absorption and retention in mammals. Nutr Rev. 2011 Jan; 69(1):41-51 Carlisle EM, Curran MJ. Effect of dietary silicon and aluminum on silicon and aluminum levels in rat brain. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord 1987, 1:83-89.
  1. O’Connor, L. M. Lawrence, A. C. St. Lawrence, K. M. Janicki, L. K. Warren, S. Hayes, The effect of dietary fish oil supplementation on exercising horses, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 82, Issue 10, October 2004, Pages 2978–2984, https://doi.org/10.2527/2004.82102978x

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