The long & short

The se­cret to bring­ing out your horse’s nat­u­ral shine lies in un­der­stand­ing how his hair grows.

EQUUS - - Tack& Gear - By Chris­tine Barakat

The color of your horse’s coat is so in­te­gral to his iden­tity that it’s usu­ally the first thing you men­tion when de­scrib­ing him: A chest­nut mare. A palomino Quar­ter Horse. A leop­ard Appy.

But there’s so much more to the equine coat than color. A horse’s hair has im­por­tant func­tions, both as part of his largest or­gan---the skin---and on its own. A year-round bar­rier to in­sects and the el­e­ments, the coat thins in time for hot weather and grows long enough to pro­vide in­su­la­tion in the win­ter. The equine coat is a marvel of adap­ta­tion.

For horse own­ers, a horse’s coat plays an­other im­por­tant role---it’s a good in­di­ca­tor of his over­all health. One of the re­wards of tak­ing good care of your horse is en­joy­ing the beauty of his rich, lus­trous coat. On the other hand, a dull, rough or sparse coat can be an early sign of ill­ness, nu­tri­tional de­fi­ciency or hor­monal im­bal­ances.

Nat­u­rally, you want your horse to look good. But when work­ing to make his coat gleam, it helps to take into ac­count the struc­ture and func­tion of its hairs and the phys­i­ol­ogy be­hind its lus­ter. Here’s a closer look at the sci­ence be­hind the shine.

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