Rugging is a personal preference. Here is our basic guide to rugging your horse.
Although our range currently only consists of turnout rugs we have put together a basic guide to look at rugging horses. We are planning to expand our rugs range but we had to start somewhere!
Rugging is very subjective and everyone, rightly so, has their own thoughts on the subject. This blog post is just a guide, at the end of the day you know your horse better than anyone else and a lot of it is just common sense.
Horses are mammals with an internal body temperature of around 38°C. Whether your horse is stabled, turned out, whether it has field shelter can all impact on how your horse maintains its body temperature.
Typical things that affect the horse’s body temperature are:
Are they turned out?
If your horse has field shelter this can effect your horse’s body temperature greatly.
If you have field shelter with at least 3 sides, your horse will reduce heat loss by around 20%. This is because the horse’s coat stays dry and reduces heat loss from wind chill. Most horses that are turned out in cold, wet and windy weather conditions would probably benefit from a turnout rug, especially if there is no field shelter available. Rugs with necks can also assist in keeping a horse warm in adverse weather conditions.
Are they stabled?
When your horse is stabled it reduces the horses activity therefore it cannot generate as much body heat. This clearly needs to be factored in for your choice of rug. A well ventilated stable is beneficial but beware of drafts and try to eliminate them where possible.
Horses gain and loose body heat quite differently to humans, they gain and loose their body heat more slowly.
After exercising your horse be careful to rug your horse sensibly. A cooler rug is a good idea until your horse has cooled down. Do not think that because your horse is sweating after exercise it should be left without a rug and be careful not to leave your horse with its usual stable/turnout rug on as it will absorb the sweat and leave your horse feeling cold.
Each horse is different, every season is different, so consider your horses needs carefully. Over time rugs can loose their efficiency, horses get older, your health of your horse may change so choose your rug wisely depending on these factors.
- Check a horse is not too warm or too cold regularly.
- When cold, humans get goose bumps, a horse’s hair stands on end, this is a good indicator it is too cold.
- A simple sign your horse is too hot or too cold is if it is shivering or it is sweating. Take the necessary steps to try get your horse’s temperature to its normal state of 38°C.
- A horse may tuck in his or her tail if feeling cold.
- If your horse is breathing heavily and its not from exercise it could be overheating.
- Look for signs of listlessness, lethargy and a lowered head.
- To check how warm or cold your horse is, tuck your hand into your horse’s rug and feel behind the wither. If it feels chilly they may need another layer. If it feels damp they are probably too hot.
- Keep a check on the weather forecast so you have the correct rugs on hand for the conditions.
- Keep a thermometer on the wall outside of the stable so you know what the temperature is each day.
- Don’t assume because you are warm/cold your horse will be the same. Think about what you have been doing and what they have been doing.