EDITED TO ADD: I went around and looked at 7 of the red horses that live at the farm I was at this morning. ALL of them have that weird yucky retained hair! Most of the bays were largely shed out, but several of the greys had retained hair too. It HAS to be something environmental.
It is no secret that I pride myself on the freakish level of shine that my horses have.
I mean come on. That is some SHINE right there. That is intense.
But unfortunately, and very suddenly, O has lost her freakish shine. She is now kind of a normal horse shine, which to me is a) completely unacceptable and b) indicative that something is wrong. She also has quite a lot of hairs doing that wonky curl/fishhook thing, which is alarming. Usually that is a sign of either parasites or a copper deficiency. Since her vit/min supplement should in theory have the copper covered, we are probably looking at something else.
I have some theories on what it might be.
1) We had some WEIRD weather this spring.
O's winter coat looked great - I recently talked about how shiny and gleaming she was. She started to shed out in March, and in theory should be long done by now, but she is not. She is hanging on to a lot of curling, yucky old hairs that are standing up and giving her more of the crushed velvet appearance rather than the sleek summer appearance that I would have expected by now. After she had started to shed out, we had a few hard freezes and cold days (after having lots of 90 degree days in a row), and she was left shivering and shell-shocked a few times. This possibly should have freaked her system out and caused her coat to retain... maybe? Hard to say. She is definitely still shedding, slowly but surely, so her coat is by no means fully shed out. Underneath it, I see lots of gleam, but there is a lot of crud still hanging on.
2) The mares are completely off alfalfa for the first time in a long time.
Last year, all through the year, the mares got a 1/2 flake to full flake of alfalfa before meals, along with their freechoice grass hay. They were all gorgeous and shiny. In the late fall, our usual supply of timothy ran out, and we instead got bales that were timothy/alfalfa. They were SUPER full of alfalfa, so much so that we stopped giving actual straight alfalfa. We fed that for awhile, and then our supplier ran out of it again, as well as regular timothy. We actually had to switch to a completely different supplier altogether, and the horses are now on (and have been on) straight timothy with no alfalfa at all. The alfalfa really gives them that extra bloom, and is a bonus to feed right before workouts, so I'll definitely be putting both the girls back on it as per their usual (1/2 flake to full flake before mealtimes, in addition to freechoice timothy).
3) Parasite problems.
When P came back I did a fecal and deworming before she even set foot on the property. She had a small worm load, and she was dewormed again and cleared. O was dewormed as well at the same time, but I haven't done a recent fecal on her. She very well could have picked up any leftover parasites that P had shed. (That typical 'fishhook' type curl that some of her hairs have always makes me think of parasites.) We'll do a fecal and see what we have going on for sure.
4) She has had on and off tummy issues throughout the winter.
After her first LD when she wasn't quite gastrically right, I went into gut health overkill with her. She had that certain personality that invites an ulcery system, so I'm really, REALLY careful with what I give her and what I do with her. While I think I have everything covered in every different direction, she very well could have some leaky gut issues that are affecting her nutrient uptake. I don't *think* so, but it could be. It is something to keep in the back of my mind for sure.
We'll get it figured out. It's always something, isn't it? HORSES!