It might be getting colder outside but it’s worth letting your horse out to enjoy some magical adventures. Perhaps you’ll let it gallop around the fields or you’ll go hacking to give it some exercise. However, when it gets cold enough, it’s worth putting a rug on your horse to keep it comfortable and warm. Our horse health expert’s advice will tell you what you need to know about rugging your equine during autumn and winter.

Rug Life

Putting a rug on your horse can help to keep it clean, dry, healthy and warm when it’s cold outside. If your horse is used to regular exercise, then rugging can also be used to slow down their winter coat growth. As well as this, they play an important role in keeping clipped horses at a comfortable temperature over the colder months. However, as different horses have different needs, and they do not feel the cold as easily as we do, it’s important to work out when your horse will need its rug.

Cold as ice!

While we might switch to our winter wardrobe as soon as the clocks change, horses can generally withstand cooler temperatures. A horse’s fur coat traps air and provides insulation. They don’t lose heat as quickly as us, because of their smaller surface area to volume ratio, and they have a wider temperature range that they feel comfortable at. Studies indicate that horses feel cold in temperatures below 00C, so this is the point when you might want to put a rug on your horse.

A quick science lesson…

Horses have evolved to maintain their body temperature when it’s colder outside. Here’s a little bit of the science behind that. The fermentation of forage in their hind gut produces heat, helping them to maintain their core body temperature. As a result, horses that have high fibre diets tend to produce more heat. How well horses can maintain their body temperature depends on a few other factors, such as what breed they are, how thick their coat is, their body condition score, age, general health and just generally what suits the individual horse!

When to rug your horse

How well your horse can maintain its body temperature is one of the things to think about when deciding whether to rug your horse, as well as what type and weight of rug to use on them. The weather can play a role too as the ambient temperature, rain and the wind chill factor can affect your horse’s body heat. You should also consider points such as how your horse is kept, whether they are clipped and whether they are getting regular exercise. Don’t just whip a rug onto your horse as soon as the temperature drops though, as over rugging can cause its own problems!

Watch out for this!

Not all horses need a big winter wardrobe. If they are over rugged, this can lead to skin infections, obesity and other problems. Rugs can also rub and give your horse sores. Plus, keeping your horse’s skin hidden from sunlight can reduce their Vitamin D levels. The best way to work out whether or not your horse is the right temperature is just to put your hand under their rug. If you’re into technology, you can also get sensors to go beneath your horse’s rug, which can monitor things like temperature, humidity and movement. Some can even track the weather forecast!

Be sure to check that you are using the correct type and weight of rug on your horse, which the advice in this blog should help you to decide. Making sure that your horse is rugged correctly will help to keep it healthy and able to freely enjoy its magical adventures throughout the colder months!


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