Rugging For The Seasonal Change
As the daylight hours begin to shorten and the temperature begins to dip horses will naturally begin to grow their winter coat. Horses begin to grow a winter coat as a biological reaction to the daylight hours shortening. Therefore, by the time autumn arrives your horse has already started growing his winter coat.
Horses’ winter coats are incredibly effective at keeping horses warm and for some owners keeping their horse naked with a healthy winter coat is their preference. There are, however, other contributing factors that may mean rugging your horse is the best choice for your situation.
Reasons to rug as it begins to cool include keeping the coat shorter as a personal preference often for riding/competing; Also, to help reduce your feed bill during the cold months, as horses burn more energy in winter keeping warm. Environmental factors, such as wind and rain will increase the likelihood of your horse feeling the cold and possibly needing a rug. A horse’s age and health status are also another reason why an owner may choose to rug their horse, foals, older horses and horses light on condition are less able to regulate their body temperature and can feel the cold more easily.
Rugging for a short/shiny coat
Many horse owners prefer the aesthetic of a short shiny coat all year long. Rugging horses will help keep the coat shorter, however this won’t completely prevent horses from growing a winter coat. To keep the coat short some owners opt to keep their horses in stables under lights or clip their coat. When using either of these methods, it is important to provide your horse with adequate rugs to prevent them feeling the cold with an unnaturally short coat during the winter months. Some suggestions would be to use a winter rug with polyfill. The other option is to layer rugs for example using lighter rugs underneath a raincoat over the top.
Rugging to maintain condition and save on feeding
In general, during winter horses will require more feeding, firstly because grass supplies tend to decrease, secondly because horses use more energy staying warm. In order to not only keep your horse’s condition up but save money on feed, rugging is a great option. Even a light rain sheet rug can keep your horse warmer, so they’re not using stored energy to heat themselves.
Rugging to combat the elements
Environmental factors are the top reasons for rugging in the colder months. Horses are usually able to keep themselves adequately warm in the colder months, when left unrugged, however when they experience heavy rainfall that soaks their coat completely through, or there's a strong wind chill factor their ability to regulated their body temperature changes. In still conditions horses can more easily regulate their body temperature than when they experience extreme weather conditions. When heavy rainfall or an arctic blast occurs, these are the times your horse would appreciate extra rugging to keep their internal temperature ideal.
Rugging based on age and health
Horses who are older or in poorer condition and foals for that matter, also tend to feel the cold more, as it is more difficult for them to regulation their body temperature. For these horses a rug with fill will be beneficial over winter and for foals, you can purchase special foal rugs or opt for mini/pony size rug.
takeaway message on rugging
When it comes to rugging it's best to think about what will benefit your horse's needs the most and what you're able to manage time wise (with some rugs these will have to be taken off in the morning and put on in the evening). Over rugging can be more harmful than under rugging or not rugging, therefore if you're unsure about what rug is best for you horse get in touch and we can help you devise a rugging plan for you horse.