As the seasons begin to change, it is time to start thinking about what rug might be the right choice. In general, at the beginning of the winter, the decision is made as to whether a horse does need to be wearing a rug. By nature, the horse has a coat which (as a lot of us know) gets a lot thicker during the winter months, as in the wild they are designed to survive even on the colder days. Take an example of the Icelandic ponies, which defy the weather even in the cold temperatures and snow. Over the years we have domesticated horses and the demands of them are different to what they face in nature however, personally for me I feel it is good when horses cope without any rugs on.
Choosing The Correct Rug:
Due to the domestication of horses who are in training, especially as their coat increases during the winter periods the amount they sweat tends to increase, therefore in many cases it is necessary to clip parts or even the whole winter coat. Horses without their natural coat tend to sweat less and also dry faster after training. However, once you have clipped a horse and removed the natural blanket it is important to replace this with a rug.
You can purchase rugs in many different styles (whether this is a half neck or they have a full neck attached) and thicknesses, they vary from a 0g Lightweight rug for rainy days when the weather is milder, to a thick padded 450g rug for the very cold, blustery days. There are three levels of rugging a horse and depending on the weather depends which rug you may use, these levels are;
The Perfect Rug For Your Horse:
From the beginning of winter, I first chose to rug Amy up in a 0g Lightweight rug, with this she is protected from the wind and rain showers. However, when the temperatures drop I then feel Amy needs more protection therefore, I find it best to choose a thicker rug. We currently work it so we use the 0g Lightweight rug during the autumn and spring as temperatures are around 10 degrees. But when the temperatures drop to 0 degrees or colder I choose a 200g Rug. We have the Buster 200g Turnout Rug with the detachable Neck Cover, I can then choose depending on the weather, whether I want to attach the neck cover or not.
Throughout the majority of winter, I did not feel Amy needed clipping, and we coped well, however, as we have increased the training period we decided to partially clip. Amy is now in a 200g due to parts of her body been clipped, but if the winter stays cold and the temperatures remain in the minus range I would consider buying a heavyweight rug of 300g or more. In the cases of a full clipped horse, you should of course chose a heavier weight of rug, I feel they may need a 100g or 200g Medium weight during the autumn and spring months then during the winter you will need a heavyweight of around 300g to 450g. But of course, this all depends on the horse and how he/she feels the cold.
The Perfect Cooler Rug:
In addition to the outdoor rugs Amy has, I have also considered the cooler rugs she can wear after exercise to help her dry without getting cold. During the summer months, horses dry easier due to the warmer weather, however, in winter you need to find another way to dry the sweat so your horse does not catch a cold. I chose the Combo Dry-Tech Cooler Rug, however, depending on your needs you can opt for a normal cut rug or one with the integrated neck cover. I feel that if your horse sweats a lot it is best to choose one with a neckpiece.
But even with the sweat rugs, there are differences, they are either manufactured of fleece or extra-functional rugs, made of special materials. We’ve always had fleece sweat rug, however, I recently tried and tested the ‘Combo Dry Tech Cooler Rug’ for the first time this year. Due to the technical three layers integrated into this rug, we found it dried the horses even better and faster than any other cooler rugs we have used in the past.
In summary, it can be said that there is no wrong weather but only us choosing the incorrect rug for our horse. We really need to adapt our rugs daily depending on the weather conditions outside. Of course, we need to avoid over rugging our horses, as they can quickly get warm. For me depending on the temperature, I adapt the rug to the need of my horse.
A great review from Katja and Amy about the benefits of choosing the correct rug depending on the weather.