Pollen isn’t the only thing that is flying in the air and making me sneeze, so is my own HAIR! It’s shedding season and a nice gust of wind sends my hair flying everywhere, tickling my nose. My equine scientist friend AND colleague (heh, heh, heh) spent several hours this past Saturday trying to help remove my undercoat by grooming me. I’m surprised that I’m not bald, considering all of the hair that Dr. M has combed off of me. It’s probably enough to cover another Lord Nelson!
Some might think that the warmer weather causes horses to shed, but in fact, it’s the change in the amount of daylight or photoperiod. Longer days (spring) means shedding your coat and shorter days (winter) means growing a thicker coat.
Horses use their “third eye” to detect daylight changes. No, horses aren’t psychic and can’t read your hooves to tell your future! Actually, the “third eye” is the pineal gland located in the brain. The pineal gland, through many chemical reactions, secretes a hormone called melatonin. This hormone helps the body recognize the different seasons, as well as, begin reproductive function in mares and affect the wake-sleep cycle. Have you ever seen human advertisements for melatonin supplements to help you sleep? That’s the same hormone that is produced in lesser amounts with an increase in day length.
I hope that I’m done shedding and will be well-groomed by the “last Saturday in April”! For those who aren’t familiar with Rutgers events, the last Saturday in April is always dedicated to Ag Field Day at Rutgers Day. On April 26, 2014 from 10am to 4pm, my buddies at the Equine Science Center and Horse Hero gal pals will be celebrating the “Year of the Horse”. Come out to enjoy the festivities! Who knows, I might make a guest appearance!
See you there (maybe?!)