When should horses be rugged?
Okay, so this question has always bothered me. How often should horses be rugged? How cold is "cold enough" to rug? I live in Australia, in quite a hot climate. The coldest it gets is about 7 degrees celcius in Winter. Every horse owner I've spoken to has different opinions: some people don't rug at all, some people rug every night. Just wondering what everyone else does?
I think it depends a lot on the horse and what you do with it. 7C isn't cold in real sense terms but if your horse is clipped or the weather is really wet for long periods and he's shivering and hunched up then a lightweight rug isn't a bad idea if the horse has no shelter.
Horses that are constantly getting wet with no chance to dry off or have a brush raked over them are also more inclined to get rain rot
Another good indicator is to monitor his weight - I know others will disagree but with the price of horse feed, hay shortages etc I would rather spend money on a rug/blanket that's going to last several years than start spending money on extra food to keep them warm
We've never rugged (blandetted or whatever else someone might call it). They have shelter available if they want to get out of the weather.
I've told this story somewhere on here before.
Over 40 years ago I was given my first horse (that was mine and not some other family member). A few weeks after getting her we had a day in the low 20's F (and colder night) with a freezing rain. My filly was standing out with most of the horses and cattle with her head low in this horrible weather. I dashed out with a rope and led her into her stall. Brushed her off, put down some fresh straw for her and felt wonderful about having taken good care of my filly who obviously needed my help in dealing with the weather. I left the stall to go back in the house. My grandfather had been standing on the porch puffing his pipe watching me and started laughing before I reached the porch. I pointed to the field and told me to look behind me. There was a my horse walking back out in the pasture to stand in the feezing rain again.
My grandfather explained to me that horses know when they need to get out of the weather and nature gives them all the coat they need. Pointing out that how many of the other horses had someone bringing them in? They know where the stalls are.
For awhile I had to endure being joked about because I didn't have the sense God gave a horse :lol:
As long as they have access to a place where they can get out of the weather if they choose to they'll be fine. Rugging will actually negatively impact there natural ability to keep warm.
I never will blanket my horse unless they need it. Horses are better adapted to stand in freezing cold, icy winds then we are. Mother nature has given them the ability to adapt to the temperatures. The only time I remember having to blanket my horse was when we got a late snow and my horse was ready for summer. That was the only time. Other then that I keep a eye on him, make sure he has lots of hay and leave him be.
^^^please remember when you make posts like this that not all people live in states like AZ where winters are pretty mild also a lot of horses are also afraid to go in shelters with other horses out of fear of being trapped
We have totally ripped most of what Mother Nature provided for the original horse by breeding them for modern needs and taking them from parts of the world where they evolved to live in places they aren't equipped for at all
I have 3 horses who's winter coats are little more than some horses summer coats - they were born and bred that way and will not cope with the sort of cold that my other two will.
I think, from what I've read here, that the cultural pressure to rug the horse is much stronger in Australia than in the US. Maybe in the UK it's stronger, too.
I mean, that it's done becuase everyone's doing it.
Obviously, some horses might need a rug. Clipped, ill, very old, or sometimes thoroughbreds don't grow much of a coat. I am sure there are other instances where the horse needs a rug. (that is always a funny image to me, since "rug" means a small carpet on the floor, to me)
But, to assume the horse needs it as a given is unnecessary. Like others said, they stay much warmer than we do. The digestive process of breaking down the hay will literally produce warmth, so make sure they have food to much through when it's cold.
Don't brush them when they are wet or you'll break the waterbarrier of the clumping outer hairs, and you'll bring the water down into the dry under layer.
that's all I can think of.
That's true when they are dry. But, when they are wet, the hairs clump into what looks like "V"s. these direct the flow of rain water down off the the back, to the point of the V where it can drip off. The water flows over the surface, rather than soaking in. If you break up these "clumps" the water surface tension is broken, and the water now wicks inward to the under hairs and the skin. making them wetter!
^Still disagree! I grew up on a farm with over 30 horses, managed even bigger farms and worked as a vet tech for a large animal vet. I've dried out a lot of horses and breaking up the matted hair works better in my opinion.
I don't blanket horses with thick winter coats and in a hearty condition even in -40 temperatures, they are just fine. Older horses that shiver, thinner horses, horses not used cold climates, yes. One year I blanketed both of my horses for MY convenience so I would always have a clean dry horse to ride, hah! I went through 4 very expensive tear resistant blankets, they were bitting & ripping each others coats and once you start blanketing, you can't remove them in the middle of winter. I don't blanket anymore, too expensive replacing blankets. My horses had a run in shed, the only time they used is when I put fresh shavings in, they peed in there & left, they prefer to take shelter under a thick stand of fir trees instead. So now the only time I blanket is after I bathe a horse before a show, just to keep them clean.
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