You know the classic scenario – owner is cold so the horse is drowning in rugs. It is logical, if you’re cold and the horse is in the same situation – they must be cold too.
The issue is over rugging, or even under rugging. It is such a common welfare issue. When is it appropriate to change to a light weight rug? or up the rug to a heavy weight rug? Below are three options you might want to consider before over rugging, or under rugging your beloved steed.
This is for day to day life, turned out and kept in. Keeping a rug on during a ride or on the walker… now that’s another post!
It’s standard, you check your phone for the weather, and then rug appropriately. Or do you? Do you rug for that 10 minutes, or for the sunshine that will appear later in the day? Have a think about what your horse will be doing – will they be on a windy hill without cover for a bit? Will they be in their stable all night with no wind, and therefore no reason to feel chilly? Is it just raining but is actually warm temperature?
It is key to think about what the horse will be doing during the day, rather than rugging for what the current issue is. We’ve all worn one too many layers to muck out, or go hacking and have had to strip off. Sadly the horse cannot just strip off when it’s too warm.
Is your horse in good condition? Do they need help to keep some weight on this winter? Do they need to loose a bit of weight? Would they be better outside without a rug to enable their coat to grow out? Are they too wide to rug up and actually have enough hair to keep them warm? Don’t forget your horse’s physical condition and whether rugs could be a hindrance rather than a help.
Fitness is not only what we are aiming for, but it also allows the horse to have less fat on it’s body, due to it turning into muscle – so although they are standing inside and may not be going out today due to the wind but it is warm, should they be rugged up in order to keep their condition? Would it be mean to leave them to shiver in a light weight rug? Would a duvet under a light weight be better than a heavy weight rug?
These are all topics that one should consider before rugging or unrugging a horse – ultimately, you want to think of it like yourself – when you are not carrying your Christmas weight, you may need to wear more layers in the cold, but you may also get too hot when walking up that hill!
Rug weight wise – this also is determined by the above, keep your wits about you!
Comfortable horse = Happy horse
A handy little trick is to put your hand behind their ears – this way you can tell their temperature at all times.