Rugging your horse

We’ve probably all had the dilemma as to what is the right rug for our horse when rugging them. Is he too hot or too cold? Especially when the mornings are chilly and then the day warms up.

You should bear in mind that horses are very good at regulating their own temperature and are generally comfortable when the temperature around them is between 5 & 25 degrees celsius. They lose and gain body temperature slowly, unlike humans, so it makes sense to take this into account when rugging your horse this winter.

What rug you will need for your horse can depend on a lot of factors. This is why it’s a bit of a minefield. The main factors which influence which rug we use are:

  • The type/age/health & condition of the horse
  • Are they turned out, do they have shelter or are they stabled?
  • Are they clipped and if so, what type of clip?
  • Do you bath your horse frequently?
  • Is their forage rationed?

Generally speaking, a lightweight, waterproof rug should be sufficient and keep your horse comfortable unless he is fully clipped, elderly or lacking weight or if it is extremely cold.

It’s important to bear in mind that it’s easier for a horse to warm up than cool down. A horse that cannot cool down enough may suffer from heat stress from over rugging. Signs of heat stress are loss of appetite, colic like symptoms/restless, rapid heart rate/breathing rate, lethargy & dehydration. This is why it’s crucial that you don’t over-rug your horse to the extent that he gets too hot and cannot cool down.