At this time of the year many of us are pulling out the heavy duty rugs to keep our horses warm and cosy, but the truth is, most of us are overdoing it.
The Ideal Temperature For Horses
Did you know that the ideal temperature range for a horse is 7-14 degrees centigrade? I don't know many horses who experience 7 degrees without some hefty rugs on them!
In many cases, we're prompted to rug our horses up nice and snug when we start to feel cold. However, we're often doing so at temperatures where they are perfectly comfortable without anything on. Keep in mind, horses can keep themselves warm in minus temperatures.
The Problem With Over-Rugging Horses
One of the big drawbacks of over-rugging is that our horses can experience serious discomfort from overheating and they are unable to cool themselves down. This can cause issues with their thermoregulatory systems, which, over time, become incapable of regulating effectively in varying temperatures.
The best way to keep horses warm is through the provision of hay. The fermentation of fibre in the hind gut produces heat and can keep a horse sufficiently warm at very low temperatures.
When Should You Rug Your Horse
So, when is it absolutely necessary to rug? As a rule, if they're out when it's raining, windy and cool/cold (below 10 degrees) all at once, then you're going to want to make sure they're protected from the elements with a light rug (And preferably access to a field shelter).
The temperatures are definitely dropping and you're probably pulling out your own warm fuzzies, but before you get your horse as snug as a bug in a rug, think about the actual temperature and if you're making them more comfortable or creating a hotbox from which they cant escape.
Turnout Wardrobe Guide For Horses
Check out the above chart from horsejournals.com as a rough guide for when and what to rug. Note that for an unclipped horse, it is recommend that they have 'nothing' on in temperatures as low as -10 degrees celsius!
Very often when we rug our horses, it dulls the coat and irritates the skin. A great way to support your horse's coat and skin when rugged is to use a skin and coat supplement, such as Revive 'N' Shine.