Skin and Coat Issues

A bare spot covering half of his ear, a winter coat that shed leaving bare spots of skin because the summer coat was slow to come in. My first year of horse ownership was full of surprises. I had know this 26 year-old gelding for several years before I owned him, and I didn’t recall these odd skin and coat issues.


Bare spot on ear.
Summer coat slow to come in behind shedding winter coat.





Moth-eaten appearance around head.



My holistic vet assured me to not read too much into these coat issues because I had just dramatically improved his diet, changed his environment to a herd on acreage, and gave him regular exercise. For the first time in a long time this horse’s needs were put first and being met. With those changes alone, his body needed time to adjust and respond to the improvements. It’s also not uncommon for a body to unwind old patterns before making new ones.

She suggested I let a full year play out and see if the bare spot on his ear goes away on its own, and if he sheds more normally next spring. In addition, other than his moth-eaten appearance, he seemed to be in good health. His eyes were bright. He had energy, and got along well with his pasture mate.

Sure enough, the following spring he shed normally. The summer coat was right behind the winter coat as it shed. The following winter the bare spot on his ear completely filled in and was normal.

No more bare spot on ear two winters later.
No more bare spot on his ear the following winter.

Does your horse have odd skin and coat issues going on? If so, for a long-term solution, look at the quality of the diet first, along with the environment he lives in and the exercise he gets. All of these areas contribute to the overall health of a horse. If any of these areas are lacking, it’s not uncommon for skin and coat issues to show up.

How do you know for sure if that’s the cause? You don’t, until you make the changes and then see what happens over the course of the next 1-2 years. If the problem is still there, then something else is going on. However, as in the case of my first horse, a year later the skin problems were gone, and all I had changed was his diet, along with environment and exercise.

Like anything worthwhile, there are no short-cuts. It is an investment of time and money. When your horse feels better and better as he ages, and you both are still around to enjoy each other’s company, it’s worth every penny.  Take a chance. Invest in a high quality diet for your horse.  Evaluate his living environment and exercise.  You only have something wonderful to gain.

Leave a Comment