Why does your horse have a dull coat?
Well…it boils down to environment, care, health, and diet. Your horse’s coat shows a little bit of what’s going on inside him, as well as just how dirty he likes to be and how often you get to grooming.
It’s part genetics. Some horses have a thicker coat, coarser hair, lighter color. Grays are hard to get shiny, heck, they are hard to get truly clean. Stallions are blessed with more shine to their coats because of their hormones, so mares and geldings are typically not so mirror like. Some breeds are also not super shiny, not everyone can be an Akhal-Teke. As much as I love the Icelandics, they are supper fuzzy and not so shiny.
All winter he looks blah. But the unclipped coat will do that!
The dullness factor is also partially due to your horse’s environment. Is it winter, and he’s fuzzy? Is it winter and he’s clipped and a bit dull? Are his living quarters dusty, sandy, or even muddy? Does he live in a giant paddock of horse loving dust and dirt?
Add to this your grooming habits. Are you more “ignore it and it will eventually go away” type of horse groom, or do you consider daily grooming to be an hour long session - each side?
But what about what’s going on inside your horse? A few things can influence how your horse looks on the outside.
Your horse’s diet must be balanced for his age, exercise level, hay quality and type, access to pasture, past medical history, the type of soil he lives on, the list goes on. Dietary imbalances reduce performance and appearance!
Also sort of blah as he sheds from winter to summer coat. And also he's a gray so he a magnet for dirt.
Your horse’s internal parasite load. Times are changing - as are the ability for parasites to be impervious to wormers. There’s also a trend towards fecal testing to be sure you are worming for the types of worms your horse has - working from a set schedule is unnecessary and can contribute to parasite resistance. Your vet can help you out on this one!
Your horse’s external parasite load. Mange, rain rot, bacterial infections, weird horse skin crud, all can dampen the shine on your horse.
Your horse’s overall health. As horses age, or struggle with other health issues, you might notice a dulling of the coat. For older horses, it’s a good idea anyway to do some bloodwork to be sure all systems are go. This just gives you the inside peek into brewing issues that might be causing a dull coat.
BUT… a dull coat doesn’t necessarily mean your horse has worms or an improperly balanced diet, so it’s worth a conversation with your Veterinarian about what you are noticing and how to go forward.