To Rug or Not to Rug a Heavy Horse/Draft
   

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To Rug or Not to Rug a Heavy Horse/Draft

This is a discussion on To Rug or Not to Rug a Heavy Horse/Draft within the Draft Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category
  • All weather rug for draft horses
  • Can a belgian draft horse stay outside in single digit temperatures

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    11-29-2012, 06:10 PM
  #1
Weanling
To Rug or Not to Rug a Heavy Horse/Draft

I would like to know what peoples thoughts are on rugging Heavy Horses. My boys have grown thick, beautiful winter coat and cold doesn't seem to bother my big lad or my baby Clydesdale. Now some people tell me I should rug my boys in Winter because he and the young 'un will lose too much weight. Other people tell me if I rug, I'll do more harm than good because they will 'lose' their coat and I will 'switch off' their own heating mechanism. Any advice?
     
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    11-29-2012, 06:31 PM
  #2
Started
As you have already concluded, your horses 'have thick winter coats and the cold doesn't seem to bother them'. You are doing the right thing by questioning others' advice to rug (or in the U.S., 'blanket') them. Personally, I would not! I live in a very, very cold and snowy climate and never have blanketed my horses. They too, grow thick winter coats, and with plenty of good hay and a run-in barn they don't even shiver on the most frigid of days. I brush mine regularly to bring out the natural oils and can see it working first hand in inclement weather. Horse-keeping should, (but it's only my opinion), be kept as simple and natural as possible. These amazing animals are so adaptable, and I believe healthier that way :)
Bluebird and ThatDraftGirl like this.
     
    11-30-2012, 07:22 AM
  #3
Foal
I live in FL, so we don't blanket. But they have hay 24/7 to keep the heat.
I think that's part of the problem with horses, we cause alot of their problems, by trying to change nature. How many horses have you seen in the wild with a blanket? God gives them the thick coat for a reason. People don't realize that when you blanket a horse you screw up that natural coat. All the hay they can eat and a wind break, a roof if you have alot of snow, at least a few trees they can get under.
I know its hard, but don't worry to much, God has been looking out for them alot longer than any of us.
     
    11-30-2012, 08:18 AM
  #4
Super Moderator
I wouldn't rug a healthy, furry draft. Just be sure they have free access to hay. There are two full drafts (5yo and 19yo) and a light draft (6yo) in our barn, and all of them are pasture boarded 24/7. They don't even think of using a shelter when the temperatures drop lower than -30 by Celsius, and are perfectly happy and warm.
     
    11-30-2012, 08:28 AM
  #5
Started
This winter it got colder much faster than usual, my mare's winter coat isn't all the way in (she's a small draft). I've been blanketing her if it's under 25 degrees, but typically when she's fully wooly she doesn't get it until it's under 15. She's also stalled at night so no wind/wet. Is yours indoors?

As for them not growing a winter coat because of a blanket, it's just not true. Their coats are determined by the amount of daylight. Which is why my horse with cataracts is in a perpetual winter coat. They will grow the coat the daylight deems they need. The difference is right when you take a blanket off their hair is flat, which causes it to loose it's warmth. It takes a few minutes to fluff again to be able to properly insulate them, I find a quick curry or hard brush helps that along. But that's why horses seem 'so cold' after you un-blanket them. This is also why the blanket needs to be warmer than the coat, blanketing a horse with a blanket less warm than his coat is actually just making them colder, which is why my fuzzy little pony only has a heavy blanker (for a really awful night or if he's sick or something).
     
    11-30-2012, 08:57 AM
  #6
Foal
We do not blanket our drafts. We live in Maine and it gets cold, (10 degrees Fahrenheit this morning) but they grow great big winter coats so we see no need to blanket them. Though, I can say that last year we had an old mare (28 years and passed this summer due to cancer) and we did blanket her just to help her keep weight on and stay warm. She really enjoyed her blanket, but she HATED coming into the barn!

We do have a run in that they will use if it gets very windy, snowy or freezing rain, otherwise they seem to prefer being outside 24/7 in the winter.

We do have hay out 24/7 in the winter. In the summer, we are lucky, they have fields.
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    11-30-2012, 09:01 AM
  #7
Super Moderator
I wouldn't rug an unclipped native or draft type as they grow the coats they need.
     
    11-30-2012, 09:06 AM
  #8
Yearling
You live in the UK where it rains a lot. Horses in dry cold cope a lot easier than horses that get rained on as the rain flattens the horses coat and they can get soaked through, and this cold.

So to answer your question,it depends on the following:

Do you work your horse sufficiently hard and often to need to clip him in the winter? If so, then you should rug.

Does he come in at night, or live out 24/7?

When he is in the field, does he have good shelter from the rain? If yes, then you shouldn't have to rug.

I'm an advocate of not rugging when unnecessary - but if your horse is in a field with NO shelter from rain for 24 hours a day then in that scenario even I would be rugging. Or preferably, moving to a field/paddock/yard with shelter.
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    11-30-2012, 09:15 AM
  #9
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by PercheronMom    
We do not blanket our drafts. We live in Maine and it gets cold, (10 degrees Fahrenheit this morning) but they grow great big winter coats so we see no need to blanket them. Though, I can say that last year we had an old mare (28 years and passed this summer due to cancer) and we did blanket her just to help her keep weight on and stay warm. She really enjoyed her blanket, but she HATED coming into the barn!

We do have a run in that they will use if it gets very windy, snowy or freezing rain, otherwise they seem to prefer being outside 24/7 in the winter.

We do have hay out 24/7 in the winter. In the summer, we are lucky, they have fields.
Yahoo for another Mainer! Where do you live PercheronMom? We're in Union (Midcoast near Rockland)

I don't blanket Sam (2 year old Belgian gelding). Even his first winter as a weanling I didn't blanket him. If I feel the need, I have a water proof sheet that will keep him from getting wet but doesn't provide any warmth. I only have this because his new boarding barn doesn't have trees or a run-in in the turnouts. But he is fuzzy and wooly, so I may not even use it . I don't see the point. If the temperature is over 35* F then he sweats because his coat is so thick.
     
    11-30-2012, 09:18 AM
  #10
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shropshirerosie    
You live in the UK where it rains a lot. Horses in dry cold cope a lot easier than horses that get rained on as the rain flattens the horses coat and they can get soaked through, and this cold.

So to answer your question,it depends on the following:

Do you work your horse sufficiently hard and often to need to clip him in the winter? If so, then you should rug.

Does he come in at night, or live out 24/7?

When he is in the field, does he have good shelter from the rain? If yes, then you shouldn't have to rug.

I'm an advocate of not rugging when unnecessary - but if your horse is in a field with NO shelter from rain for 24 hours a day then in that scenario even I would be rugging. Or preferably, moving to a field/paddock/yard with shelter.
My horses only have natural shelter and live out 24/7, my 2 yr old haflinger will have a bone dry coat underneath the outer layer even after driving rain for days. Rain is not always an issue, but it depends upon the horse, my shetland cross will get cold in the same conditions and so needs rugging even though his coat is excessively thick.
     

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