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Nutrition Myth Buster: A Shiny Coat = Perfect Diet

True or False? Busted! - it’s a false sense of security believing a shiny coat is from a

perfect diet, if the diet has not been properly assessed. Sad but true, many horse owners (or

horse admirers) seem to think that a shiny coat automatically means that the current diet is

working, that it is balanced and all the nutrients that the horse requires is provided, the horse is

thriving, and that the horse is healthy.

This is a perception that needs to be busted because in many cases, vitamin and mineral

deficiencies still exist and diseases are not recognized. A wonderful shiny coat can be brought on by one or two different factors or a combination of all: great grooming techniques and frequency, bathing and specialized coat products, fats and/or oils added to the diet (ie. flax oil), fats contained in processed feeds, Omega 3 rich pastures/oils/grains or supplements, and/or a balanced diet. If you have analyzed the hay and correctly balanced the minerals, and accounted for deficiencies and excesses, and the result is a horse with a shiny coat, then BRAVO! But

without doing the leg work, it would be foolish to “assume” the diet is perfect based on

appearances or fancy marketing tactics by manufacturers.

So therefore, a shiny coat does not always indicate a perfect diet. In fact the quickest way to

add shine on a horse (besides grooming) is adding some flax oil in the diet, or a fat and fiber

product added, or it’s spring and the horse has been on lush pastures for a few weeks. All of

which may still very well mean that the diet is unbalanced and still lacking essential nutrients. Or

conversely, the diet has numerous excesses and the mineral ratios are unbalanced. The hooves

are a great indicator of mineral deficiencies and unbalances. So when taking a look at a shiny

horse, take an even better look at the hooves: flaking? chipping? cracking? obvious rings? poor

frog and sole quality? thrush or white line disease? These all are indicators of poor hoof quality

and deficiencies/excesses in a horse’s diet.

Remember to keep in mind, that all horse hays and pastures are not perfect when it comes to

nutrition. This is why an assessment is recommended: to determine what is lacking (or in

excess) and to correct or balance to the horse’s needs. When it comes to nutrition it is so

important to look beyond that shiny coat, dig a little deeper and ensure the diet is optimal for

your horse.


Interested in taking the next step in your horse's nutrition? Do you need help in determining the best combination? Send an email to and share your story!


Jean Klosowicz, Equine Nutrition Consultant & Educator

Superior Equine Health and Nutrition Inc.

Bruce Mines, ON

fb: @SuperiorEquine


Healthy Horses. Happy Owners. Superior Results!

Superior Equine Health and Nutrition Inc. ~

The articles contained in this column are for the purpose of education and are not intended to take the place of proper veterinary care. They may be used in conjunction with such care to facilitate healing and maintain health of the horse.

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