50 Shades of Shedding! OY!

I’m sure your horses are shedding like crazy right now.

But what interests me about shedding… is the rate of shed.  Every horse is different and I wonder why.

To me, the rate of shed, the quality of the hairs that shed and the quality of the coat underneath are all important to understand your horse’s health.

This is Wrigley. The red is his winter shed. The brown is his summer coat.


What I’ve heard from my vets over the years is:

it depends upon where they were born

it depends upon what they eat

it depends upon their health

All probably true.  But, I think ‘health’ is the main factor.

As an aside, this is my donkey’s winter coat. She is curly.  As you can see, I’m trying to brush it.  I really cannot.  Usually I just run my fingers through it and fluff out all the dirt.


BG and Finn are 100% siblings. They were both born in Texas, on the same farm.  So, you might think that their shedding pattern would be similar.

Not true.

BG is shedding out beautifully, her coat underneath is flawless and shiny… Finn, not so much.

Neither are particularly pillars of health right now… I’ve had to restrict their diet to figure out why BG continues to have hives – so they are not allowed on the grass as often as the others.  BG has hives (not a healthy thing) and Finn is fat.  But, their new coats are very shiny and healthy.

My guess is that Finn, advancing in age, is becoming Insulin Resistant.

BG, I have no idea why she has hives.  It has been 9 months now.  I keep trying things… but the hives have not effected her shedding.

I took this today of Finn. He is fat and has only shed out on his neck. I can tell that he is starting to be IR. I need to watch him.


Wrigley is young and healthy.  He was born in Grass Valley, CA.  However, his diet is also restricted because he is in with BG and Finn.

I’d say Wrigley was shedding out normally and his new coat is shiny, but his winter hairs are stiff.   I need to build another paddock so he can be fed alone.   Being low man, he gets the least… yet he needs the most.  I’ll put that on the list…

Mo was born in the desert of Nevada.  I think he is 8.  He always has a rough, thick coat.  Even after it sheds, it still looks thick and rough.   He eats really well and has ample natural forage because he is out with the ladies who lunch on the green grass almost daily.

I have no idea why his coat is so rough.

Wrigley had a few winter hairs on his head and on his barrel. He is shedding normally.  (That is BG in the background.)

This is MO. His coat is always rough. He is a true desert donk. I will try to see if I can smooth his coat out any, or if it is just that way. My other donkey, Norma Jean, has a smooth summer coat.


Annie, Missy Miss and Mo have access to the huge green pasture more than the rest of the herd.  So, they have the most diversity in their diet and they travel the farthest in a day.  It shows.  (However, they are also the youngest… so that has to be factored in.)

Annie is 6 and Missy Miss is 7.  Both young ladies.  Annie was born in Nevada.  Missy Miss was born in the Southern CA desert.

These girls hardly have a winter coat.  I think they are mostly shed out already.  Their underneath coats are perfect.

These ladies eat well, they are young and were born in a hot climate.  If these truisms are true, they fit the mold.

Annie looks great. She hardly had a winter coat but it is almost all gone now.

Missy Miss hardly had a winter coat either… and it is almost all gone already.


This is the elder group.  Norma is 25 with a liver issue… Dodger is 36 (at least) and Gwen is 23 with slight Cushings.

These guys only get to go out on the green grass twice a week at night.  I do this because the sugars in the grass are least strong at night.

All of them have health issues.   All of them are on meds and special feeds.

Gwen was born in Oregon.  Norma Jean was born in Oregon.  Dodger I don’t know, but I rescued him in Oregon.

Gwen usually sheds pretty well but the Cushings hangs on a bit.  Dodger grows so much Shetland hair – and he is elderly – but he sheds very well.  Norma hangs onto her coat.  But I will say, she is shedding sooner than normally – so I think her new meds are helping!

Once they do shed, all three have very bright and shiny summer coats.

Dodger is at least 36 years old. He has a huge Shetland winter coat. But, he is shedding well. it will take more time for me to see his summer coat.

Norma has endocrine issues… she hangs onto her coat for too long. However, I think her new meds are working because her shoulder, neck and legs are shedding already!


I do watch shedding and adjust feed accordingly.  I know that Finn needs to be watched for IR.  BG is fine (except for the hives).  Wrigley needs more groceries over next winter.  Annie is fine.  Missy Miss is fine.  Mo is Mo (I need to have him longer to understand his coat better.)  Norma Jean is actually doing better because she is shedding earlier.  Gwen is fine.  And finally, Dodger…still waiting to see his summer coat, but his attitude is GREAT.

BG and Wrigley.  Both still have winter hairs on their trunks.




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4 comments have been posted...

  1. Bunny

    Regarding brushing dense and/or curly coats esp. at shedding time. In a sale bin at my feed store were some “tail tamer” flat paddle brushes. I have very long, very thick, very curly hair and the tail tamer brushes have sort of wavy and widely spaced bristles (they also come in really pretty colors if you care about that) and my own hair badly needs “taming” esp. when there’s hay flying around. So I bought one for my draft horse who has thick wavy tail hair (he’s not docked and tail hairs are very long and pick up shavings and hay and the occasional blackberry vine) and one for me. Unbelievably wonderfully effective brush – hair, tail, mane, and body brush for horses. I used it on a friend’s minis who were shedding and on every tail, mane and body in the barn. Interestingly the one horse in the barn who hates being brushed blissed out when I used this on his body – no squirming or fussing–he doesn’t even like being brushed with my soft stubben brushes but he liked this one used on his body. The brush was easy on the hands too – I’ve got carpal and this brush did not make my hands tired. I went back to the store and bought the rest of the “tail tamers” they still had to give as gifts because I liked them so well. Long story short – this brush might work really well on that donk’s curly coat.

  2. dawndi Post author

    What a great idea! I will try it because it could be as simple as gnats (but I spray her)…still I see the gnats all the time.

  3. Calvin48

    Have you tried spirulina algae for BG’s allergies? I have a horse who was allergic to a small fly or gnat when we lived in Iowa and this helped him a great deal with the hives and itching. I bought it from Uckele. I now live in Colorado at 8,000 feet and we have few flies here, so I no longer need to feed the spirulina.

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