The Fall Shed

By Patty Wilber

We are probably all familiar with horses shedding in the spring.  Equines also undergo a shed in the fall to allow the growth of their winter coats.

Usually, right around State Fair, I notice my horse’s coats starting to lengthen, but this year, while all are dumping hair, none seem particularly fuzzy.  It seemed like we had an extra hot summer that only recently cooled off.  This caused me to hypothesize that the warm temperatures were influencing something.

My horses are dumping their summer coats in preparation for their winter coats!

Hair is coming out!

According to all sources I found, the trigger for both the spring and the fall shedding in horses is photoperiod (day length) that is perceived by the eyes of the horse. Interestingly, blind horses, that cannot adequately get day length information to the brain may have trouble shedding.

For fall shedding, the shorter days trigger the shed.  The temperature, according to all sources, has little to do with the shedding. Warmer temperatures, however, can slow hair growth, according to an article in Equus magazine.  Horses in warmer climates, warmer barns, or with blankets tend to have shorter winter coats than those in colder climates, colder barns, or without blankets.  The warmer horses still get winter coats, but somewhat  shorter.  Perhaps the hot temperatures have  just slowed the growth of the hair so far this year, or maybe my comparative powers of perception are off and the winter coats are growing in like always!

At any rate, the horses brains, thanks to decreasing day length, think summer is over.

I, for one, do not love the shortening days, but I have been enjoying the pleasant temperatures.  And I am glad to live in the southwest where winters are not especially long and cold.  I don’t love winter.

Cancer Treatment Update. I got my second immunotherapy  shot today. Easy enough! Follow up mammogram next week then meet with surgeon to review the mammo the following week.

Happy Friday!



About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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4 Responses to The Fall Shed

  1. Colleen McNamara says:

    Great post. My birds are also going through a “shed” actually molt. They are getting in new feathers for their migration. Of courses ours won’t be migrating anywhere. Molting occurs in a gradual, bilateral symmetrical sequence so no bird is left bald and unable to fly. Right now the yard looks like there has been a major predator attack (thankfully NOT). The birds do show some behavior changes ; they stop laying eggs (to put energy into new feather production) they also increase the amount of food they are eating. I add extra calcium powder and yeast to their pellets, birds become less active and quiet ( can’t prove this by my flock) especially the African geese. The female goose begins the morning being very vocal (I think there might be some rooster genes in her background) . Patty thanks for your blog, it makes my Fridays.

    • BlogPatty says:

      I never really thought about bird molting! Thanks for the info and thanks for the kind words about the blog!

  2. CMH says:

    Now write one about the Fall falls 🙁

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