The mornings are crisp and the grass dewy. Leaves turn from green, to yellow, to red, and fall to the ground. The Autumn chill is kicking in. In this weather, we need an extra layer to keep warm and comfortable and as it gets colder, your horse may need one too. Rugging your horse must be done with care and attentiveness, as there can be complications.
Firstly, a warning about overrugging. In Australia, the majority of the country experiences warm, even harsh temperatures for much of the year. Rugs do not keep horses cool. Overrugging your horse can be fatal, and should not be done in the warmer months. If daytime temperatures climb into the mid twenties, its still too warm for a rug.
If you live somewhere that is cold and wet, strapping a rug on to your horse will protect them from the wintery weather. This is sometimes necessary, to keep them healthy and prevent them burning up the energy they may use trying to warm themselves. If you need to rug your horse, be mindful of the following things.
In cold weather, the coat of an uncovered horse stands on end to trap in heat. If you rug your horse, be mindful of this natural mechanism. Ensure the rug is properly fitting, and does not flatten the horse’s hair and reduce its mobility.
Rugs need to be checked at least twice a day. You must make sure that straps have not slipped as this can result in injury to your horse. Hoods and neck rugs should only be used if you can check them more regularly, as severe injuries can occur if they slip or move. A properly fitting rug should not rub a horse’s shoulders. If bald patches are occurring from rubbing this indicates serious discomfort for your horse.
Other things to check for are water leaks, and monitoring the your horse’s weight. Grooming must be regular as a rug prevents a horse’s natural exfoliating such as scratching on things and rolling around.
Horses are complicated and delicate animals, and as with all horse care, rugging requires knowledge and attention. If you see a horse that is overrugged, don’t be afraid to let their owner know. We all have to do our part for our equine friends.
If you would like to know more about rugging your horse, or details about horse’s natural temperature control, see the two links below.