As the temperatures drop more and more, we tend to put on thicker layers of clothes. But what about our pets? While most pets will stay safe and cosy indoors, there’s no way you can fit your horse into your home even if you wanted to. So, you’re tasked with the responsibility of keeping it warm during the winter.
Although the stable keeps horses dry and shielded from the wind, it doesn’t always provide the necessary protection from the cold for some equines. Horses which are very young or very old, as well as underweight horses and horses suffering from a disease are more vulnerable and have a hard time to regulate their body temperature in the cold. Due to these and similar reasons, horse rugs are some of the most commonly sold horse products during the winter.
So, if you do feel that your horse needs to be covered with a specialised rug, make sure that it’s thick enough to keep it warm, but not too thick as to cause overheating. Besides the animal’s health state, another factor that will influence how thick the rug needs to be is whether the horse is clipped or not. For instance, if temperatures are below zero, a clipped horse will need a heavy rug that includes a neck cover, whereas an unclipped one will require a rug with a medium thickness.
In addition to keeping the horse warm during the winter, a rug can also keep it protected during windy and rainy days. So, even if your equine friend is healthy and has no trouble maintaining proper body temperature during the cold, a horse rug can still be one of those horse products that are incredibly beneficial. However, horse rugs can also have their downsides if they’re wrongly used. For instance, if your horse doesn’t need the extra coverage, the rug can prevent it from losing energy through heat, thus resulting in weight gain.
It’s also important to mention that you don’t need to rug your horse whenever you feel cold yourself. Horses have a wider thermoneutral zone in which they feel comfortable. So, while a human may already be freezing, a horse will start to feel cold when the temperatures reach below zero. If the temperature is 5oC, for instance, most horses won’t require the extra warmth.
With that being said, the use of rugs during winter and extreme weather is absolutely necessary for some horses. However, before buying one, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian whether your horse will actually benefit from the additional protection.