It must first be said hair analysis is an invaluable tool when used in conjunction with blood tests and assessments made with by a qualified veterinarian. We invite you to explore the many benefits from taking a hair analysis of your horse. But first we will acknowledge how controversial hair analysis has become amongst horse owners and nutritionist in recent times. This came about from variations found in results by comparing outcomes from different analyzing facilities with the same person or horses hair.

How hair analysis’ credibility was undermined …..

Some individuals set out to undermine hair analysis by sending in samples taken from long lengths of hair chopped into 3 cm lengths and likely taken from different parts of the body (when testing hair from a horse), then sent these sections off to different laboratories. Hair should be only taken from the most recent 3 cm of growth (close the skin), as this will represent the most recent minerals and toxins exposed to the horse. Taking a long strand and chopping up will confuse the results as years of dietary and environment inputs and exposure will show up. Unfortunately these individual were bent on sabotaging hair analysis credibility. The other important factor that can vary the outcome from multiple samples taken from the one horse is by not following sample taking guidelines. Areas of the body exposed to the ground (leg hair) may contain soil contaminants. Hair taken from the tail may contain urine and manure contaminants. Mane hair not rinsed sufficiently after using chemical products likely will too alter the results. For accurate test results, sampling must be done in accordance with the Hair Analysis Guide (see below the link). It is plain to see just how easy it is for individuals to cause distrust in hair analysis as a credible testing method.

By employing the services of a professionally recognized laboratory you can confidently analyse your horse’s hair particularly to see if there are any toxic levels of heavy metal present (note necessary and beneficial minerals such as copper and zinc are also deemed heavy metals).

Unexplained health problems or poisoning may be discovered this way.  For example, Pharlap’s hair revealed arsenic toxicosis as the cause of death. FEI readily uses hair analysis to test for anabolic steroids and to obtain further information about previous abuse.

Hair analysis can reveal toxins that blood testing alone cannot always – usually due to the time lapse between intake and testing.  Grass/hay testing alone cannot confirm the absorption rate of minerals in your horse, just as testing soil alone cannot confirm the grasses uptake. Hair testing opens a window into how your horse absorbs minerals and individual metabolic activities.

Hair analysis provides a 10-12-week window into mineral and heavy metal deposits to the hair.  A very informative study of mineral intake and hair analysis of horses in Arizona revealed hair analysis may not reflect a dietary deficiency of a mineral, but instead could indicate excess of antagonistic mineral which interferes with or inhibits the physiological action of another.   The same study demonstrated that an inter-element relationships of feed mineral to hair minerals does exist, indicating a change in mineral supplement will elicit a change in hair mineral(s) content (but not one-to-one). It appears quite possible that a dependent mineral, which is either low or high in horse hair, can be manipulated by choosing a synergistic/antagonistic mineral that will affect the dependent mineral in the desired direction.

Minerals must first pass through the complex systems of ingestion, absorption and circulation before being deposited in the hair.  Hence blood tests for minerals will always differ from hair analysis. Minerals that are high in the blood, may not be utilized by the body, and end up stored in organ, tissue and hair, that is why it is of interest to compare blood test levels of minerals with stored minerals in the hair – a much bigger picture is generated to allow for further veterinary testing and diagnosis of other metabolic activities. Hair analysis alone is NOT a conclusive diagnosis of significant health conditions.

Obtaining a hair analysis is highly beneficial to understanding and evaluating a horse’s overall health, notable looking for significant dietary imbalances and potential toxicity storage.

It is worth testing each horse you own, as results can vary despite being the same size, breed and fed the same feeds.  It goes to show just how varied absorption rates are to each individual horse.   Potential kidney issues can be indicated early, including high levels of stored sodium (likely salt feeding excesses).   Always retest with the same laboratory, as the conditions and methods used may cause some variations, to make legitimate comparisons, you need to retest in the same manner.  Hair can be retested in 3 months to obtain a window into systemic changes from external influences (change of hard feed diet, pasture improvement and water).

Knowing your horse’s ‘normal’ allows easier identification of sudden changes to 1) behaviour or anxiety changes, 2) drop in condition, 3) coat colour leaching, 4) hoof quality deterioration and 5) onset of any other unusual health condition. 

Sending in the equivalent of 1 heaped tablespoon taken from trimming to the scalp is all that is needed to benchmark your horse’s hair.  Tip: trim small amounts from several locations in the same area (usually the wither) to avoid noticeable trimming.

Send hair sample with the Submission Form below. Use SSPACK 050 as the test code and post to EAL Lab. They will phone you when they receive your package for the $88 payment and then email results directly to you once complete. The whole process takes about 2-3 weeks.

Interpret your results for FREE – follow info below

Down load and print the EXTENSIVE NOTES below. You can write your results alongside each item and then compare these when you retest.

Something very interesting and highly beneficial in interpreting your results is to understand RATIOS and what they mean. To do this for FREE, simply copy the test results you receive by email and paste them into the Template-Hair-Results spreadsheet below. Then watch the magic happen. Only the Mercury (Hg) you need to manually enter the result number without the < symbol in order for the calculator to understand and convert into the graphs.

Next download the RATIO and INTERPRETATION form below to understand what the ratios mean, particularly the ELECTROLYTE graph, this one will indicate whether they are fast slow or mixed oxidisers, this is the most important assessment you need to make.

If you discover and you will likely discover several toxicities or deficiencies, then follow the DETOX recommendations at the end of the EXTENSIVE NOTES to begin your journey of detoxing and healing.