Coat health and natural coat shine reflect the health of your horse. Aloeride delivers extraordinary coat shine without fail (obviously this is a challenge on dapple greys) it is one of the benefits that Aloeride is gaining a fabulous reputation for. Not just because it looks pretty but because it protects. The header picture was taken on 28th January and shows you the amazing early-in-the-year, natural coat shine of a dressage horse. Beyond elbow grease (brushing), no trickery (grooming spray) was necessary for this photo, this healthy coat shine happens routinely thanks to the right quantity of unique spectrum nutrients within Aloeride. It is one of the reasons why Showing champions Loraine Homer and Katie Jerram use and like it. If you want to improve the coat of your horse –no matter if you do this to win in the Show or Dressage arena or to help your horse stand up to midges– then we hope the detailed information in this page will help you a lot.
Skin works from the inside out
Your horse’s skin works like a conveyor belt with the deeply located dermis growing new cells from the available nutrients in the blood stream. As new cells are being made, mature cells are pushed outwards creating the superficial epi-dermis. Epidermis is your horse’s first line of defense against foreign organisms and an environment that is drastically different from its own internal atmosphere. This epidermis gets nutrients passed on from the underlying vascular dermis via diffusion i.e. nutrients left over once the dermis has had its fill. That’s why an abundance of nutrients is necessary to grow a robust coat! The outermost epidermal cells fall off through natural abrasion. Dry skin means that epidermal layers are malnutritioned and that diffusion didn’t deliver enough nutrients. Don’t confuse malnutrition with bodyweight – a horse can be of the correct weight, or even overweight, but still not getting the right nutrients. It’s easy to understand why that often happens in winter: there is often a dip in the overall level of nutrients a horse gets, even with good quality forage. Like skin, hair follicles (roots) construct hair from the available nutrients in the bloodstream. Alongside the follicles are sebaceous glands which secrete sebum – but not all sebum is created equal! The quality of hair and skin function depends 100 per cent on how healthy they were during development. Our customers notice a significant difference in the quality of their horses’ coats by adding just one sachet of Aloeride a day to their feed. Often there’s pride in knowing that external beauty comes from abundant nutrients promoting health, and not from cosmetic grooming lotions or sprays.
Safer by Sebum
Skin Surface Lipids (SSL) -a complex mixture of sebum with small amounts of epidermal fats- are a vital protection system for your horse’s epidermis. They provide photoprotection (UV light), antimicrobial activity (bacteria), delivery of fat-soluble anti-oxidants (health), emollient (suppleness) and rain shield. Two of sebum’s components are unique and not found anywhere else in the body nor among the epidermal surface fats. Sebum is found in the greatest concentration round the hair follicles (attractive to bacteria) and guards the penetration sites where hairs emerge from the skin. It does so with a complex mixture of triglycerides, fatty acids, indigestible triglycerides called wax esters, sterol esters, squalene and cholesterol. It is the squalene and the wax esters that sets sebum apart from other skin fats. Squalene works as an antioxidant for the harmful Singlet Oxygen free radical i.e. protects skin by halting its fats going rancid because of exposure to UV light. Squalene also has cellular and non-specific immune functions and it acts as a ‘sink’ for highly fat-soluble compounds foreign to the body. Antioxidants always work in cascades (multiple antioxidants working together) and here too, squalene is protected by vitamin E working together with coenzyme Q10 and if these two become depleted, then squalene decreases to marginal levels… and defence is gone. Wax esters (condensed long-chain fatty alcohols with long-chain fatty acids) prevent dissication. They keep water either in or out of your horse, prevent abrasion, act as a barrier to microbial penetration and reduce absorption of toxic environmental chemicals [Ref 1]. Sebum also inhibits the growth of microorganisms thanks to being slightly acidic. [Ref 2, 3] By the time your horse looks like this header picture, you can be sure that its protective function of coat/hair/sebum is strong.
Top Tips for coat health and natural coat shine
Brushing your horse regularly (using a rubber curry comb, hard-bristled brush or soft brush as appropriate) increases the blood flow to your horse’s skin and removes dirt (hygiene!). Circulation (blood and lymph) flushes waste products away and presents nutrients for development. Brushing also distributes what-should-be-protective skin fats including sebum and helps to shed old hairs, supporting the transition from summer to winter coats and vice versa.
Nutrition – only nutrients fuel health. From questions and feedback, if not from the sheer choice of different feeds, it is obvious that finding the right nutrition for your horse isn’t always easy. Different equine disciplines, different levels of work, different age and different seasons, are all variables in feed choice. At one of the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) conferences we were shown that the elite riders spend their money on absolutely-right-for-my-horse feed and as a result they (have to) spend little on supplements. We were also shown that ‘ordinary horse owners’ spend comparatively less on feed but fork out significantly on supplements. The many competition riders that we have the privilege to deal with like it that Aloeride ‘does what it says on the tin’.
Supplement cleverly and when it comes to coat health and coat shine, you would do well to take a broader view. As you know, gut function has a major influence on the look and health of your horse’s coat. Better nutrient uptake means more nutrients are available. The epitomy of gut issues affecting coat is parasites (so correct worming is essential!). Aloeride gives you such a broad reach, helping the digestive system and the coat simultaneously. A palatable powder in 1 sachet a day simply sprinkled over feed, it gives enormous support for natural coat health and coat shine. In most cases it renders the use of oils completely unnecessary. That’s because fleshy succulant plants like aloe vera contain omega-3 in their leaves. We grow ours in optimal conditions and process both fillet and leaf so as to include those healthy fats.
Oils may be considered to increase shine and softness of coat, tail and manes  but it is easy to get this wrong in the omega-6 : omega-3 ratio department. Since horses are healthiest when you allow them to be a horse, it’s wise to remember that the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of pasture is approximately 0.3-0.6 : 1. Given that grass is its natural staple feed, clearly your horse needs both, but very significantly less of 6 than of 3. Note that omega-6 oil can spur on inflammation and reduce cell-mediated immunity, omega-3 oil does the opposite. So now you know the ratio your horse (and its digestion) is designed for. With good feed and Aloeride you won’t need extra oil.
Should you still want oil in your feed room, here are some pointers: Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio of Flaxseed Oil 0.26:1 so that’s OK, of Fish Oil 0.13:1 so that’s OK but when did you last see a horse eat fish, of Soybean Oil 7:1 means way too much omega-6, of Ricebran Oil 19:1 means way way too much omega-6, of Corn Oil 53:1 means incompatible with good equine husbandry. On top of soya’s inappropriate ratio, soya’s phyto-oestrogens are known to mimic oestrogen, not good! Quickly back to sebum, one of its known functions is pro- and anti-inflammatory activity exerted by specific lipids [Ref 5], thus sebum will be less anti-inflammatory if ratios favour omega-6. As a rule of thumb, when oil smells, it is in the process of going rancid (flavouring hampers detection) and oils in clear bottles go rancid quicker than oils in dark coloured bottles. The bottom line is, if your horse gets enough (fresh) plant feed then there’s enough oil in those leaves to satisfy its requirements.
Create a barrier between what’s out there and the coat of your horse. Common things to shield from are rain, UV light, cold and insects. Rugging for rain is fine but horses with a coat that has good epidermal lipids have a natural ‘wax coat’ protection, but of course in the wild a horse also would seek shelter under a tree. Horses sensitive to UV light i.e. get sunburn, first of all need a review of that squalene/vitE/Q10 situation and probably you shall want to put them on Aloeride. With rugging for sunlight do make sure they don’t get too hot. Cold is interesting because the temperature your horse likes is around 10 degrees Celcius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), many of us think that’s chilly so our assumption is that our horses may feel chilly too… not necessarily so! Winter coats, with slightly longer hair than summer coats, can be made thicker by your horse by piloerection (hairs standing more upright like in picture above) which traps a column of air that buffers cold, much like double glazing does. Putting a rug on againt the cold flattens the hairs (i.e. stops ‘double glazing’), so do make sure that a rug for cold is thick enough. Going ‘rugless’ is fine for rugged horses (not thoroughbred or standardbred) providing a horse has access to shelter from bad weather. Rugging to try and minimise insect bites is fine but it would help your horse tremendously if you’d supplement cleverly so that its response to bites is handled better.
1) Vale, M.M., and D.M. Wagoner. 1997. The Veterinary Encyclopedia for Horsemen. Equine Research Inc., Texas.
2) Lewis, L.D. 1995. Equine Clinical Nutrition: Feeding and Care. Williams and Wilkins, London.
3) Baxter, M., and D. Trotter. 1969. The effect of fatty materials extracted from keratins on the growth of fungi, with particular reference to the free fatty acid content. Sabouraudia 7:199-206.
4) Harris, P.A., J.D. Pagan, K.G. Crandell, and N. Davidson. 1998. Effect of feeding thoroughbred horses a high unsaturated or saturated vegetable oil supplemented diet for 6 months following a 10 month fat acclimation. Proc. 5th Internat. Conf. on Equine Exercise Physiol., Utsunomiya, Japan.
5) Zouboulis CC, Baron JM, Bohm M, Kippenberger S, Kurzen H, Reichrath J, Thielitz A. Frontiers in sebaceous gland biology and pathology. Exp Dermatol. 2008;17:542–551.