As I said to friends at camp a couple of weeks ago as we put night rugs on at 10pm, it’s the time of year that you’d like your horse to be in your back garden so you can adjust rugs late in the evening and early in the morning. It’s so hot during the day, but cold at night that you constantly bounce between over rugging and under rugging.
I think it’s important to know your horse, and act on their body language; if they’re tucked up in the mornings, hair standing on end, or starting to drop off weight then they’re cold and need rugging up more.
I feel this autumn I’ve got the balance right with Phoenix. Despite her native breeding she really feels the cold until her winter coat comes through. She is actually happier with something over her back as soon as the nighttime temperature drops. Besides, she’s much more relaxed when I ride her in the mornings if she’s had a rug on overnight. With a 100g and a no fill rug this year I feel I’ve finally found the balance which is right for her.
About three years ago a few articles went viral about the problems of over rugging horses, along with charts telling us what rug weights are appropriate at what temperature.
A lot of it makes sense, and yes many people were over rugging horses. But recently, I’ve become concerned that this approach is actually causing owners to leave horses under rugged and cold. Which has it’s own set of problems such as weight loss, stiff joints, unhappiness.
The result is that owners now second guess themselves, and no one is confident in their logic. Which is detrimental to horse’s welfare.
Whilst there are problems associated with over rugging, most notably obesity and colic like symptoms, it is important to look at each horse and their environment as an individual.
Some horses feel the cold more than others. They may have finer hair and thinner skin, may be clipped, or they are…
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