Does your horse have a dull coat, a short mane, or a wispy tail? Part of it may be genetics, but there are many things you can do to help give your horse better hair from head to tail.
Whether you’re showing your horse or just want to show off on a trail ride, here are 6 tips for improving your horse’s coat, mane, and tail.
#1 - Healthy hair starts on the inside
Without proper nutrition, no amount of conditioners or other “tips” will improve your horse’s hair. In order to have healthy hair, your horse needs the right amount of protein, amino acids, and vitamins found in quality forage and feed. Not enough protein in the diet will lead to slower hair growth and shedding. Amino acids and vitamins improve the surface of the hair, making it appear shinier and healthier.
#2 - Groom every day
Dirt and dander left on your horse for too long can cause dry, itchy skin, so daily grooming should lead to a healthier coat. Daily grooming will also let you see any small cuts, abrasions, infections, bumps, or other irregularities that you might not see otherwise. Braided manes and bagged tail don’t require daily brushing but still need regular maintenance to prevent tangles and breakage.
#3 - Keep manes braided and tails bagged
The best way to protect your horse’s hair is to braid the mane and bag the tail. Both of these methods help prevent tangles from forming, which is important because brushing out tangles can pull out otherwise healthy hair, leading to a shorter mane or a thinning tail.
When braiding your horse’s mane, try to place the rubber bands on thicker braid portions to help prevent breakage. When bagging your horse’s tail, you always want to secure the bag 1 inch BELOW the tip of the tail bone. Securing the bag to the bone itself can cause a loss of circulation to the tail which could lead to amputation.
#4 - Don’t comb your horse’s tail
It’s common to use a wide-toothed metal comb to brush out your horse’s tail, but metal combs tend pull out hair by the roots. Since it can take a couple of years for each hair to grow back to its original length, you may be unintentionally thinning your horse’s tail every time you comb it out. The best way to prevent this is to pick out shavings and tangles with your fingers and brush gently with a soft brush.
#5 - Keep everything clean and dry
Cleaning tack, rugs, and saddle blankets often will help reduce the risk of fungal irritants. Dirt and moisture in the stable area can lead to infection, so keeping the stall clean and dry will help your horse’s overall health. Removing dirt and sweat from your horse and all of his tack will help prevent skin irritation and sores. Gel and hairspray used to smooth short hairs on top of the tail for a show can be drying, so those products should be washed out to prevent him from scratching, which can irritate the skin and pull out hair.
#6 - Deworming is crucial
Worms make horses itchy. Scratching itchy tails causes skin irritation and hair damage. Any time your horse rubs their behind on something to try to relieve the itching, they run the risk of snagging their tail hairs and having them ripped out, leading to a thinner tail.