What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Failure to Shed Haircoat Normally


If you notice that your horse has retained all or parts of their coat late into the spring season, there may be cause for concern. A complex hormonal system controls the shedding of the haircoat. Several rare conditions can disrupt this system resulting in an abnormally retained haircoat.

However, this sign is far more commonly associated with older horses that have Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID or Cushing's Disease). Horses with severe or well-established PPID may have the classic retained curly coat (hirsutism), but patchy shedding (retention of long hairs on the legs) is much more common.

  • Code Yellow

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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Be on the lookout for other signs classically associated with PPID, such as weight loss over the top-line, lameness, changes in the appearance of the feet, lameness, digital pulse, and reluctance to move. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not ignore this sign. Failure to promptly diagnose and treat PPID can lead to laminitis, a potentially life-threatening condition of the feet.

your vet's role

Your vet may perform a physical exam to rule out other problems, and will probably perform blood tests to determine whether your horse has PPID.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Does the horse show any signs of lameness or resistance to move?
  • Does the horse appear to be losing weight?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP