Horse Health: Coat And Skin Issues

With show season underway, it is only natural that you want your horse to look and feel their very best. Achieving show ring shine can be easily achieved if you take the correct actions. Your horse’s health matters, and this is usually reflected in its appearance. What goes into your horse is what you’ll get out of them! Ensuring they maintain a balanced diet packed full of all the essential vitamins and minerals is vital when it comes to good health. When deciding what additional nutrients are best to help your horse’s coat shine, plenty of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are  key to keeping your horse looking and feeling pristine. You can find these in fish oil, as well as plants such as linseed.

Skin Conditions To Watch Out For 

If your horse hasn’t been getting the right nutrients, it could result in various skin and coat conditions. Listed below are some of the more serious conditions to look out for that can impact your horse’s coat and skin health:

Rain scald

Rain scald can be a serious skin infection, caused by the softening of the skin. If a horse has a weakened immune system, due to poor nutrition, the lack of natural grease in their coat can diminish. This can hinder them from keeping warm and dry. Additionally, this can occur when leaking or non-breathable turnout rugs are used, when there is poor air circulation under the rug, or the horse’s back is constantly getting wet with moisture from rain or sweat. An affected horse may show patchy hair loss along the back and quarters. The hair can become matted, and the skin may develop sores and weeping lesions. To try and avoid your horse from getting rain scald, ensure that it always has access to shelter from the field and that rugs are of the correct type for the conditions and maintained accordingly.


This is a contagious fungal infection of the skin that spreads by direct and indirect contact, so infected horses should be isolated wherever possible, strict hygiene measures should be adopted and veterinary advice sought. Infection shows initially as tufts of raised hair, which eventually fall off, leaving weeping lesions. Affected horses can be aided with creams, shampoos and washes that are applied to the skin, helping to alleviate any discomfort.

Sweet itch

Sweet itch is an inflammation of the skin as a result of an allergic reaction, which is also called Summer Seasonal Recurrent Dermatitis (SSRD). Sweet itch is caused by a biting midge, and the itching sensation your horse may experience is a subsequent allergic reaction. This is felt by many horses along the back, often around the mane and tail. Environmental factors should be considered, and susceptible horses often develop this as youngsters, with the issues continuing into their adulthood.

Feeding horses with poor skin and coat condition

Alongside appropriate treatment and medication, a balanced diet of vitamins and minerals is important. Quality protein is important as it provides the building blocks of tissues and high quality horse feeds such as alfalfa will provide the amino acids the horse requires. Additional essential fatty acids should also help to soften the skin and make the coat gleam so your horse will be back in top condition. 

By ensuring you feed your horse the best possible quality horse food and a balanced diet, you will greatly reduce the chances of problems happening again. 

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