Spillers' equine nutritionist Clare Barfoot provides one H&H forum user with some helpful advice on how to feed her horse for a shiny coat without adding calories and condition

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Q: “I’m looking to start showing my mare in the summer and I want to add something to her feed that will enhance her coat and give it a good shine, but most of the supplements I’ve been looking at are quite fatty and high in energy and she’s already a bit of a barrel and definitely doesn’t need any extra energy. She’s currently on happy hoof pony nuts and stroppy mare and I was wondering if any one has suggestions on what I can try please?”

A: A nice shiny, silky coat is what we all want on our horses and ponies, but it’s not just about hours of grooming!

The biggest influence on coat condition is your horse’s overall health. Therefore it pays to start with the basics — think about her worming programme, the health of her teeth and her general health status. Then it’s time to turn to nutrition.

Protein, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can all affect coat condition, therefore providing your horse with a well-balanced diet is the key to producing a healthy horse on the inside as well as a lovely shiny coat on the outside.

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If you are not feeding SPILLERS Happy Hoof at the recommended level, particularly during the summer months, it is still very important that your mare has a daily supply of vitamins and minerals in her diet. This can be achieved by feeding SPILLERS Daily Balancer. This will provide a balanced diet every day without providing extra calories that your mare doesn’t need.

As you have identified other nutrients that might also help support coat and skin health, are essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6 oils) provided by ingredients such as micronised linseed, although you are right to be concerned amount feeding too much as ultimately oil is calorie dense.

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Other nutrients that might help to support skin and coat condition are vitamin C, which has an important role in the maintenance of connective tissue, and biotin which has well known benefits for hooves and hair. Traditionally, some herbs have also been used to promote a healthy coat, these include chamomile, nettle and clivers.

However, the right nutrition is only half the story, you will still need to get the body brush out and apply some elbow grease! Brushing your horse regularly will keep her coat mud- and scruff-free and will stimulate blood flow that will bring all the good coat-enhancing nutrients to the hair follicles to help promote quality hair growth and that beautiful shine! Good luck with the show season ahead.

For more information on Body Condition Scoring and managing weight call the SPILLERS® Care-Line on 01908 226626.