Equestrians; Are you rugging your horse because YOU are cold?
Yes, it has gotten cold here on the Coast. I myself am quite a ''cold bug'' and find it nippy (I am in 2 jumpers, fleece trousers, socks and fleece booties, plus snuggy).
However, do you know what our Thermo-Neutral Zone is? The tempertature where we feel most comfortable (naked) is around 25ºc to 30ºc. Do you know what your horses Thermo-Neutral Zone is? 0ºc to 25ºc... Bit of a different right?
Now, considering our climate here rarely lowers the 5ºc at peak times in the evening, our horses are still quite comfortable if unclipped and UN-RUGGED!
Most horses find it much easier regulating their temperature going up than down, in otherwords; getting warm is easy and cooling down is much harder. So, when we are rugging our horses in 400gr + for a measly 5ºc with a wind factor of 3ºc, it is not doing our horses much good.
Clipped horses, will of course need help with isulation but perhaps not to the extent we are capable of going to. But what in both cases of clipped and un-clipped we have to be very VERY careful of is sweating. Sweating in the cold is worse, causing Hyper-Hydration to the skin therefore causing damage and infection to the skin.
Rugs also stop the absorbtion of Vitamin D which regulated your horses Calcium and Phosphorus intakes in the bone. This could lead to deficiencies leading to a loss of bone strength. Sunlight provides your horses Vitamin D, which cannot penetrate through rugs.
Bigger horses and thicker set horses will hold the heat MUCH better than those of less body fat, thinner and small horses.
High fibre diets are also excellent sources of heat, and those on high fibre diets will benefit from thinner rugs to those whom are on High Starch or High Oil diets.
Rugs have their place in the Equestrian world, for sure - otherwise I wouldn't sell them or use them. I do use very thin, UP to 150grs on my horses at the coldest of weathers here on the Costa del Sol.
Rugging is appropriate, but perhaps we are all going a little over the top. There are other many obvious factors that would have to be taking into account which I haven't written like age, breeds, shelters etc. But hopefully, this blog will get you all thinking about whether you are rugging for YOU or for your horse.
Over-rugging does much more harm than good, even in unclipped horses. Please rug responsible, and seek advice as to what to rug dependant on your whether conditions, horse and enviroment. That is what I am here for so please use me for all the advice you need.
Stay warm :D