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Equine Health Resource

Haircoat, Long & Curly or Wavy

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  • If the horse has Cushing's Disease, prompt treatment may prevent laminitis.

A long hair coat that is retained in the warmer months, and changes in the length or appearance of a horse’s haircoat are commonly associated with Cushing’s Disease, or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfuction (PPID).

PPID is a very common endocrine disease in older horses that often also causes weight loss, chronic infections, and most importantly, laminitis, a disastrous disease of the feet. Every effort must be made to prevent the development of laminitis.

Other reasons for rough hair coat include parasitism and other systemic disease, but the rule out diagnosis for this kind of hair coat (especially in older horses) is PPID (Cushing’s Disease).

WHAT TO DO

Groom the horse with a curry comb to see if the long hairs easily shed off, revealing a normal coat underneath. If not, assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), especially take note of the appearance of the hoof walls, and feel the limbs for digital pulse. Consider the amount of the horse’s daily water intake (which is usually elevated in PPID) and share your findings and concerns with your vet.

It is important to reduce high carbohydrate grain feeding (keep the horse on a grass hay diet) until your vet assesses the situation.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet starts with a careful history and physical exam. They may recommend diagnostics to rule out PPID. If PPID is likely or diagnosed, the overall treatment and management plan will attempt to reduce the likelihood of laminitis.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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