Do you refer to a horse’s coat covering as fur or hair? If you said hair you are spot on. In our observation of animals, we have noticed that some coat coverings are denser than others. A denser coat on an animal is called fur. Fur is a coat covering used in wearing apparel. The horse’s coat covering is NOT used in wearing apparel, and therefore is called hair.
How does a horse know when to grow hair and when to let go of its hair covering? When the days become shorter with light, this triggers the horse to grow hair. In the same way, when the days become longer with light, another trigger is pulled to release the coat covering on the horse’s body. Light is important in a horse’s life, as well as it is in our own lives.
Horses have three different hair coats. We humans consist of three parts: spirit, soul and body. Our Creator is ONE Triune God: Abba Father, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
One of the coats of a horse is referred to as its summer hair coat. This spring coat is a lighter coat; a hair covering that easily supports the horse drying out should the horse become over heated and sweaty. Then, there are two winter coat growths. One is short and thick hairs, and one is long hairs that will stick up and provide air spaces that serves as an insulating-layer against cold winter temps. These hairs lift up to release heat and conceal keeping heat in. How amazing!
It is this time of the year that the winter coat hairs are coming off, detaching and being released for a new coat. This is where the shedding blades come out, and are used again and again in our grooming of our horses. Piles of horse hair will be in your alley way, or the wind will swoop it away. The birds will collect horse hair and line their nests with it. The horses are releasing, and the birds are collecting.
What is a shedding blade? It’s a bent metal piece in a “U” shape, held together by a handle. One side of the shedding blade has small, jagged teeth that remove loose hair from the horse’s coat. The other side is smooth and works well to remove sweat after a ride or to remove excess water after hosing your horse down from accumulated sweat from the saddle and saddle blanket.
In using the shedding blade on your horse, if you press too hard, your horse will usually give a swish of the tail or look at you like “Hey! Knock it off!” No worries, your horse will give you accurate feedback on how you’re doing. Our horses enjoy strong rhythmic strokes on the necks and rumps.
The condition of your horse’s hair coat can be a “tell-tell” on the overall health of your horse. A dull course hair coat can be related to parasitic ailments, Cushing’s Disease, a thyroid imbalance, or other health concerns. Sometimes it can simply be the outcome of the weather patterns and nature bringing about an “abnormal” coat covering that raises some concern. In those times that it’s “unusual” but no known health issue, the “wait and see” may be beneficial. Usually, if the horse is on a balanced diet and you spend more time grooming your horse and even giving your horse a body massage from time to time, the mystery of the questionable coat covering will be resolved.
So with shedding blade in hand, relaxing as you stand next to your horse, begin a rhythmic stroke, and watch all the hairs that have detached, being released because you showed up with a shedding blade in your hand.
And remember if there is something in your life that is no longer serving you well, let it go and enjoy the release, receiving your new coat that will serve you well.