HOW YOUR HORSE’S COAT CHANGES

EQUUS - - Eq Letters -

A new study from Poland shows how well-adapted the equine coat is for dif­fer­ent sea­sons.

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland, fol­lowed a group of five Pol­ish Konik mares liv­ing on a re­serve in a tem­per­ate south­east­ern part of the coun­try. They took pho­to­graphs of the mares ev­ery two weeks through­out the year and used a com­puter to an­a­lyze hair growth pat­terns. Specif­i­cally, the re­searchers cal­cu­lated the per­cent­age of the sur­face of each horse’s body cov­ered by short hair at each eval­u­a­tion and de­ter­mined which re­gions of the body had short hair.

Their find­ings un­der­score how the equine coat con­trib­utes to equine body tem­per­a­ture reg­u­la­tion in hot and cold weather months. The largest in­crease in the per­cent­age of short body hair oc­curred dur­ing April and the first half of May, when the horses were shed­ding. Sim­i­larly, short hair per­cent­ages de­creased the most in Septem­ber, when win­ter coats be­gan to grow in.

In ad­di­tion, anal­y­sis of the hair cov­er­ing spe­cific ar­eas of the body re­vealed some new in­for­ma­tion: The horses’ shoul­ders, backs and loins were cov­ered by win­ter coat longer than were other ar­eas of the body. The re­searchers say that this is prob­a­bly as­so­ci­ated with the strong ef­fect of rain and snow on the up­per part of the body.

Ref­er­ence: “Changes of coat cover in prim­i­tive horses liv­ing on a re­serve,”

Jour­nal of An­i­mal Science,

March 2015

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