rugging dilemma - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 15 Old 11-16-2010, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
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rugging dilemma

I am on a fence with this one, and am hoping to get some advice/opinions. I livein North Central BC (Canada) where it can get pretty cold. I am boarding my horse where he is kept in a pasture year round, all day. He is with a buch of other horses; they have shelter, but 95% of the time they prefer to battle out the wind in rain in the open or move into the trees. I have included celcius and fehrenheit temps to make things more clear. My BO rugs the horses when it reaches below -20 C (-4 F). We do get cold snaps that can dip below -30 C (-22 F), and sometimes with the wind it can get down to -40 C (-40 F). My BOs phiolosophy is that most horses did not originate from cold climates like this (unless it is a shaggy/hardy pony/horse breed). So she rugs them. Most people around here do not rug their horses--you almost never see horses out in pasture with rugs, and I have read alot of conflicting info that rugging can actually make them colder (sweating/ flattens the hair), and what about taking them off after it goes abouve -20 C--how do the horses handle this? My horse will not be ridden (or very lightly--maybe a few laps around the 20 acre pasture bareback) and does not get clipped. He is at a good weight right now-I am trying to get extra weight on him to help insulate--but he hates his beet pulp. His coat seems slightly thinner/more fine than some of the other horses, but it is also more lofty/fuzzy. I don't know what to do he is relatively new to me, and I don't know how he does during the winter). DO I buy a rug and use it--will it then have to be super heavy, or would he benefit from more of a light wind/water repellant sheet that wont weigh down the hair, but will keep the wind and moisture out... What to do???
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post #2 of 15 Old 11-16-2010, 10:16 PM
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off hand, I would say your idea of a lightweigth wind/rain sheet will work best, especially if he has a good coat. He should have access to a LOT of good hay and be groomed regularly to keep the fluff (in case it gets matted down with mud). Can you wait for a bit to see how good he furs out? I do know that they are hardier than we think, but your temps are pretty cold by my standards. I am sure some of the other northern folks will have some thought.s
How is he doing? This is the black and white qh you bought in wierd circumstances from the lady who misrepresneted him, no?
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post #3 of 15 Old 11-16-2010, 10:29 PM
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If he's already got a good coat on him, at most you'll need a blanket with about 200 grams or less of fill. Anymore and he will sweat underneath. I agree about the sheet making the hair flat and taking away the horse's natural insulating factor. The only time I blanket is when it is going to rain a lot or is really windy. A cold horse with a good natural coat is good. A wet cold horse is bad no matter what. Maybe you can try a few friends' blankets just to see what his tolerance is to them. You'll know within 10 minutes if he's too warm under there.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #4 of 15 Old 11-17-2010, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
off hand, I would say your idea of a lightweigth wind/rain sheet will work best, especially if he has a good coat. He should have access to a LOT of good hay and be groomed regularly to keep the fluff (in case it gets matted down with mud). Can you wait for a bit to see how good he furs out? I do know that they are hardier than we think, but your temps are pretty cold by my standards. I am sure some of the other northern folks will have some thought.s
How is he doing? This is the black and white qh you bought in wierd circumstances from the lady who misrepresneted him, no?

Yup, same horse. Things are actually going pretty well. He isnt the brightest bulb, and learns a little slowly, but I am much more confident with him. I have him lunging properly now, and he is quite respectful on the ground. He doesnt like to stand tied for too long though. Since "the incident" he hasnt bucked or run into me once. I took him out 3 times last week. (I have been riding him in the arena, and probably 6-7 times totlal off of the property) his first trail ride with other horses, he was a really good boy. Then I took him out twice on the same trail by himself. We even saw a deer, and I was able to handle him-didnt act up too much, plus these trail work him pretty hard--there is no flat ground around here. I am much more assertive now and am using the same attitude with him as do when I am training my dogs--he doesnt get away with much. I feel like we are goin to be Okay--a way to go before he is the steady trail mount I though I was purchasing, but I am getting loads of experience, and my BO and other boarders are astounded at how far he has come, how knowledgable I am (thanks to all the advice from this forum and ALOT of research), and how sweet he is. I had an interesting experience the other day where he swung his butt into the electric fence while I had him on the lead, he whipped around and backed up, but didnt bolt, and calmed down quickly. I was very impressed.
Thanks Tinyliny for your ongoing support and interest!
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post #5 of 15 Old 11-17-2010, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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**BUMP**
More opinions please? Especially from those in colder climates such as myself? What about the issue of removing the rug after the temp raised above 20 C, and will it actually make him colder??
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post #6 of 15 Old 11-17-2010, 12:45 PM
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I'm not sure if we're as cold as you are, but I've never rugged. The only time I've seen Soda uncomfortable is when it's doing that freezing rain crap in the fall/spring and then he just spends most of the time in the shelter.

Now I just got a pony from Kentucky and I'm considering getting a rug for her just for the days when it's wet because Soda is a jerk and won't let her in the shelter when its raining/snowing.

In my experience most horses do just fine out in the elements as long as they have enough forage (as close to free choice as possible), are used to the climate, and have a shelter for rainy/snowy days.
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post #7 of 15 Old 11-17-2010, 03:31 PM
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FWIW we run in Maryland any time the weather gets below freezing at 32F... I've never heard the argument that rugging makes the horse colder, that seems to be crazy to me.

The thing that makes most horses really cold is when the weather is wet as well as cold. Assuming they're used to the temperature then they should be fine as long as they have shelter and lots of hay/forage/whatever to keep their systems moving.

If you do decide to get a blanket then make sure you take it off regularly as they can rub and if the blanket leaks it can cause serious rainrot on a horse's back. We took one in like that and he took a long time to fix.
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post #8 of 15 Old 11-17-2010, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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The arguement is that putting a run on the horse flattens to coat it does have and it loses its insulating properties--you need a much warmer blanket then most think. It takes 2 inches of blanket to make up for every inch of coat pile. I just read a very interesting article on this in Horse Canada.
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post #9 of 15 Old 11-17-2010, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mramsay View Post
The arguement is that putting a run on the horse flattens to coat it does have and it loses its insulating properties--you need a much warmer blanket then most think. It takes 2 inches of blanket to make up for every inch of coat pile. I just read a very interesting article on this in Horse Canada.
Do you have a copy or link to that article? I never heard of the 2" to 1" rule. Very interesting. I figure it's a lot like a cat. They come in from the snow all puffed up and cold to the touch, but are actually warm underneath.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #10 of 15 Old 11-17-2010, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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I read the article out of a magazine, I looked on theri website horse-canada.com; unfortunately it isnt one of their featured articles. I do, however have the article in fonto fo me... ity talks about how amazingly the horse can defend itself against the elements, and the importance of blanketing mid-fall to prevent heavy coat growth and clipping (for those horses that are going to be worked hard). It discusses the use of rain/wind sheets to prevent heat loss. Here is the direct quote on what I was saying "Blankets are a useful addition to the winter arsenal, but they can sometimes do more harm than good. Placed on a horse who already has a winter haircoat, blankets compress the hair and rduce its natural loft and insulating abilities. It takes about two inches' thickness of artificial loft (blanket fabric) to effectively replace an inch of the horse's natural coat".
If I had a scanner, I could scan it an email it-but it is broken. It is a pretty interesting article that talks about how to adjust your horses care routine for the winter months.
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