It is said that what’s on the
outside is often a reflection of what is inside. With horses, the saying is quite
true. A horse’s coat and mane are a reflection of the animal’s inner health and
an indicator of proper diet and care.
The proper diet will make a horse’s
coat soft and shiny and the mane and tail long and smooth. A diet lacking in
key vitamins and minerals will cause its coat to appear dull and its hair
brittle and prone to tangles.
So what key nutrients should you
give your equine in order for him or her to grow a soft, flowing mane and a
smooth, shiny coat? Here are a few examples and how they promote healthy hair
• Fats: Recent studies have shown that
the addition of fatty acids, found in corn, soybean oil, or rice bran, have a
great effect on both hair growth and overall durability. However, the overuse
of some of these supplements has also been linked to a higher risk of developing
allergies among equines. Some veterinarians recommend flaxseed as a safer
alternative to corn or soybean oils.
• Protein: Proteins are the building
blocks of skin, muscle, and a healthy coat. They promote hair growth and hair durability,
leading to a less brittle mane. A protein deficiency will manifest itself in
many different areas such as strength, muscle tone and the quality of the skin
and coat. A protein deficiency problem can be corrected simply through the use
of a feed with higher protein content or through protein supplements.
• Vitamins and key minerals: Overall
vitamin health is essential to all aspects of equine health. For example, a
lack of vitamin E can affect a horse’s metabolism which can lead to poor hair
growth. This can be helped either through an overall vitamin supplement,
mineral blocks, or even just change to a feed with a better vitamin and mineral
It is important to understand how your equine’s diet and overall vitamin and
mineral health affect the look and feel of the coat and the strength of the
mane and tail. Any changes to the horse’s diet should be taken with the best of
caution and only with the advice of your veterinarian and equine nutritionist. Horses
have a very sensitive digestive system and disruptions in diet have been known
to cause digestive problems. A simple blood test can determine the exact nature
of any deficiency and determine the best course of action.