Sunday, April 15, 2012

Crazy Shedding Season

This has been the worst shedding season I think I've ever seen. Our winter this year left me little to complain about, and I'm famous for being able to complain about cold weather. December, January and February are months that I typically just complain about it and I count the days until March. When the first week of March comes we are always guaranteed to be in spring at that point with the grass starting to really green up.

This year after our pleasant winter it was almost like we skipped spring and went straight to summer. By late March not only had the cool season grasses greened up but the warm season grasses had as well. Most of the days in March saw a high temperature in the low to mid 80's with a couple of days just barely missing the 90 degree mark.

The horses always start lightly shedding in late February through March, and then really let go of the hair in April. This year the light March shedding wasn't making most of them happy since we were having summer temperatures. They spent hours grooming each other, rubbing on the trees, rolling vigorously, and generally doing whatever they could to encourage their hair to come out even though for most of them they weren't in heavy duty shedding time yet.

This spring I have joked that we live on a farm of ragamuffins. Every year a few horses (not necessarily the same ones each year) do what I call patchy shedding. They let go of their winter coat before the summer coat has fully grown in underneath so they walk around with bald patches for awhile. This year the patchy shedding was crazy. One day a few weeks ago I was grooming MyLight with the shedding blade. When I'm using a shedding blade I put some muscle into it and go pretty quickly. After a few strokes I realized I wasn't just taking some of her hair out, I was taking MOST of her hair out. Her neck and shoulder had large basically bald patches where I had used the shedding blade.

This pattern continued to repeat itself with horse after horse. I would run the shedding blade over them with enthusiasm and bald spots followed. After a couple of weeks the bald spots were replaced with new summer hair but then new bald spots replaced the old ones. I was almost embarrassed to have the vet out for spring vaccinations last week given the state of everyone's coats with their rub marks and bald spots. Thankfully he just laughed at my embarrassment and said he'd had more than one client have him out to examine their horse thinking they had a skin condition due to the crazy shedding patterns they were seeing. I realize I shouldn't be happy about the misfortunes of others but I will admit I was glad to know I wasn't the only one. (And more glad that at least I knew the horses were just shedding oddly and didn't think I needed the vet out to diagnose a skin condition!)

The shedding is starting to calm down now. Some of the horses are completely shed out now. Most of the horses are almost finished losing their winter hair and just have patches on them, mostly on their barrels, that will finish in the next week or so. Some of the older residents are further behind in their shedding but that is normal.

Last week our temperatures returned to more normal spring temperatures from the summer days we had been having. Now that the horses are better prepared for it I'm sure they won't mind if the summer temperatures return.

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Asterik and Lotus having a good time

Wiz and Johnny

Something had Walden, Fabrizzio, and Thor's attention

Sebastian, B-Rad, Alex and Darby

George

Grand

2 comments:

Bif said...

One of my neighbors' quarter horses often sheds in patches; this year, she is NAKED. She looks like a very nervous parrot, with just a few feathers left.

Kate said...

We've had some of that up here too - Dawn was bi-colored for a while: part red summer coat and part blacker winter coat. She even had a pale almost naked circular patch on one of her haunches - sort of like a crop circle!