Equine Hair 101

Horse & Rider - - Whole Horse Q&a -

Your horse’s hair has many func­tions, in­clud­ing ther­mal in­su­la­tion, sen­sory per­cep­tion, a bar­rier for the skin, and— es­pe­cially for the mane and tail hairs—in­sect con­trol. Hair growth oc­curs in cy­cles. Dur­ing the growth pe­riod (an­a­gen), a hair fol­li­cle is ac­tively pro­duc­ing hair. Dur­ing the rest­ing pe­riod (tel­o­gen), a hair is re­tained in its fol­li­cle as a dead (club) hair, then lost. “Cata­gen” is a tran­si­tional pe­riod. Horses have two growth pat­terns based on the hair type. For body hairs, growth and shed­ding are syn­chro­nized by sea­sonal changes, es­pe­cially in­volv­ing day­light and tem­per­a­ture. For mane and tail hairs, growth isn’t syn­chro­nized, and there’s no sea­sonal shed­ding. Each hair, whether a body or mane/tail hair, grows to a pre­or­dained length. Mane and tail hairs have a long growth phase, reach­ing ever-greater lengths sim­i­lar to hu­man scalp hairs. Nu­tri­tion, hor­mones, gen­eral health, and ge­net­ics also play a role in gen­eral coat qual­ity and hair growth.

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