Equine Hair 101
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.