Source: Pony Club News
Author: Cat Hill
Brought to you by Shapley’s Grooming Products, the Official Grooming Products Sponsor of Pony Club
The evenings are getting cooler, the leaves are thinking about changing, pumpkin spice is showing up in the grocery stores, fall is upon us! As the cooler weather sinks in, our horses present us with some unique needs. Many of us think of the spring as the dreaded shedding season, but the fall is the other side of that cycle.
We often field questions in the fall about horses rubbing or itching themselves. I find that losing their summer coat can leave horses even itchier than the spring! If your horse is starting to itch their mane and tail off, the culprit is probably general body itch. First and foremost, curry the coat with the stiffest curry your horse enjoys. With horses that dislike a curry comb, try cactus cloth, which can provide a great massage and rub without irritating sensitive skinned horses. The fall also tends to increase the amount of oil being produced, and some horses will get an oily, gummy, or waxy feel to their coats that can cause them to itch as we get deeper into fall. A good wash with a deep cleaning but gentle shampoo can help break up the oil and let the skin breathe. Shapleys Medi-care shampoo is my favorite for itchy horses in all seasons, and I find that massaging the soap in with my hands-on ™ gloves really gets to both the loose hair and oil build up. If you cannot wash your horse, use a dry shampoo like Shapleys Easy. Spray the horse thoroughly, curry it in then towel the horse well.
For horses that continue to itch their tails, first check that between the horses hind legs and their sheaths are clean if they are a gelding, or their teats if a mare. If those areas are clean, then try carefully washing their dock, rinsing well and then applying Shapley’s MTG to the dock to help prevent them from itching their tails off.
In the late summer and early fall, it’s a good time to evaluate your horse weight headed into the winter. A horse who is a little poor this time of year will struggle to gain in the colder winter months, so taking the time now to check their body condition and add some nutrition if necessary is a good idea. If you are unfamiliar with the body score index, have your vet out to do an evaluation and help give you advice on how to get your horse looking really good prior to the winter.
Finally, keep a close eye on older horses or those with Cushings disease. This time of year can be hard if they grow too much coat to early, because it can still have very warm days. They have a very difficult time handling being hot, and horses that are breathing hard, sweating or panting in their stalls are in danger of colic and dehydration. It’s ok to clip a horse if you need to for their comfort, just be ready to blanket them on the cool evenings. If I clip this time of year, I give a good wash with Hi-Shine shampoo after and then spray then with Light Oil # 1 to make sure they have a good shine, since they can look a bit dull or matte when clipped mid-shed.
Staying ahead of your grooming is always better than trying to play catch once a problem has already arisen. When in doubt, curry and elbow grease are always the right answer!