A Guide to Help You Learn When to Rug Your Horse
Horses are very coveted and gorgeous creatures and it only flows that, in turn, they require proper care. Many people may believe that food, fencing, and shelter are the only requirements in owning a horse (with an occasional veterinarian expense.) This is not entirely true.
Although there may be ample building sheltering for your equine, there is a particular personal covering that you may have not take into consideration: Horse Coverings known as Horse Rugs. There are four basic types of horse rugs:
If the above all sound familiar but you want further clarification on the differences see our helpful guide on the basic types of horse rugs and their features.
Within the above options there are more sub-types which are differentiated by their features such has how they cover the body and if they include a neck cover whether it is permanent or detachable.
Just as you must know your size when you buy yourself some new clothes, you need to know your horse's size in order to purchase a rug for them. Ensuring the horse rug fits correctly goes a long way to its effectiveness and the comfort of your horse wearing it. Knowing how to measure your horse for a rug is an essential part of choosing the right product.
When to Rug a Horse Other Than for Weather Purposes
Weather isn't the only reason they are used, there may be other reasons for rugging your horse, such as:
- You are traveling with your horse to a Horse Show or Event and want to keep their coat clean while transporting.
- You are traveling to a location where the temperature and the conditions are not familiar. In this case, carry it with you to be prepared for any situation.
- Using lightweight, breathable rugs to wick away any moisture that your horse has on their coat following a bath or exercise.
- When in an environment that requires help in the way of prevention of flies and other insects.
- They may be sick or recovering from injury and need additional warmth during this more vilnerable time.
Horse Rugs That Have a Specific Purpose
Fly Rugs for Horses are popular in the summer months and any other naturally warmer periods, you may choose to add a fly rug to your horse.
These are ideal during hot weather when the sun is strong and can cause dark coats to fase and lighter coloured horses to get subburned.
They are also great at stopping insects from biting while the 50/50 cotton/poly blend allows it to be tough yet still breathable.
We have introduced to our prodcut range a new Lightweight Horse Rug that has been essential to horse owners in New Zealand and now it is available in the UK. Made for the inbetween times when it's not cold enough to need a thick winter rug, but also not warm or dry enough for summer sheets.
There are different types of fly rugs and it helps to know the best fly rugs for your horse.
To Rug or Not to Rug: Your Horse's Thermostat is Very Different From Your Own
A critical component to keep in mind when thinking about your horse's natural thermostat is that your horse already is wearing a fur coat to regulate their internal body temperature and keep the horse warm. This hair features Mother Nature's natural gift of adjusting its density -- just as a dog does -- by shedding to a thinner covering in the summer and growing out longer in the winter to accommodate for colder weather. Obviously wild horses do not need fly rugs to survive.
In other words, a healthy horse has a very efficient ability to regulate their own body temperature, and as long as the temperature is between 5°C and 25°C, they are perfectly comfortable without any extraneous covering.
However, it is of paramount importance to realise that a horse is much better at warming up than it is cooling down; there is true danger if your horse cannot cool down and it may ultimately become afflicted with heat stress. This is further aggravated and unhealthy if your horse is overweight, because this overheating can shoot straight to your horse's hooves to cause laminitis and other health issues.
Knowing that it is unhealthy to over-rug your horse, you may also be curious about how/where to store your horse rugs when they are not in use. There are several creative and nifty storage ideas for your horse rugs.
Other Ways a Horse Naturally Keeps Itself Warm
As aforementioned, humans and horses have very different metabolisms and accommodations for adjusting to hot and cold weather conditions.
Horses generally rely upon these five mechanisms to maintain a preferred temperature:
1) Horses will turn their backsides to the direction of the incoming weather. This accommodation is even more productive when they are within a herd. Horses will cluster to share and generate their body heat;
2) Although you know your horse needs ample structural shelter, there are times it will stand out in the rain or continue its intent grazing. Do not worry, because your horse will seek out natural shelter such as tree lines or shrubs as wind breaks when it feels the need to do so;
3) You may have noticed that your horse seems undeterred by a coating of ice or snow on its back in snowy, icy weather. This is because the horse's natural coat creates a barrier layer where a "shield" of heat is stored;
4) The expression, "Eats Like a Horse," is a true adage! A horse continuously forages and grazes, and this boundless appetite creates energy as the horse's digestive system does its work;
5) Your horse likely gains a few pounds every summer; conversely, its metabolic rate increases in the winter, which results in it burning off these extra kilos as it naturally warms itself.
Hazards of Unnecessary Rugging
1) Inappropriate or excessive rugging of your horse has to the potential to cause your horse to sweat. An unnecessary rug can cause irritation to your horse's skin, as well as preventing sunlight from the much-needed absorption of Vitamin D. In turn, a deficiency in Vitamin D weakens bone strength. However, a solid hour per day in bright, dry and sunny conditions is often sufficient to minimise this risk.
2) Your horse will gain weight during the winter as this is part of its natural ability to maintain warmth. Over-rugging and feeding your beloved equine too much causes unnecessary weight gain, which leads to laminitis. Allowing your horse to run without a rug will enhance your horse's ability to shed this excess weight.
3) If your horses are allowed to free-range throughout a large acreage, including access to trees, buildings, and other structures, the habit of rugging them when they are unsupervised for periods of time might prove hazardous in that any entanglement could lead to an injury to your big furry friend.