|“Horses” by Eric LaMontagne is licensed under CC BY 2.0|
It’s not just you who will feel
the cold once we’re deep into winter with all the associated weather
conditions: frost, ice, snow, sleet, wind, freezing rain and so on and so forth.
You’ve got your lovely, warm, padded Puffa jacket to keep you toasty, but
remember, it’s essential that your horse is protected against the elements, too.
However, it’s not as easy as going out and buying any old rug and expecting
that to be fine for him until late spring.There’s a lot more to consider…
What do I really need?
There are many different sorts of horse rugs
for many different purposes – and not necessarily just winter rugs. These include
anti-sweat sheets, cooler rugs, exercise rugs, fleece rugs, fly Sheets, New
Zealand rugs, rug liners, stable blankets, summer sheets, travel rugs, and turnout
rugs – so it can be daunting to start working out which you’re going to need
for your horse. And that’s before you start looking at different styles – high
neck, detachable neck, combo or standardwith uncovered neck–as well as the
various weights available. For winter, breathable and waterproof rugs are most
appropriate, although, depending on the type of horse and the sort of work he
does, you may also need an exercise blanket.
|“Icelandic Horse Closeup near Vik, Iceland” by Diana Robinson is licensed under CC BY 2.0|
Consider your horses needs
First things first, what winter rugs
to buy will depend upon your horse’s type. Cuddly, hairy natives and hardy cobs
tend to be good doers and will not fall victim to the cold in the way a
thin-skinned highly-bred sort, such as a thoroughbred warmblood may do. Also,
a fully clipped horse will need more protection than an unclipped, or only
belly clipped pony and of course, you then need to consider whether the horse
lives in or out – or a bit of both…
Once you’ve ascertained your
horse’s type and requirements, it’s imperative to measure him correctly– from chest to
quarters as well as his height in hands. An ill-fitting horse rug will cause
rubbing, will not do the job properly, will be uncomfortable and could also
slip, potentially contributing to injuries if a leg becomes trapped in a strap –
or at the very least, make it easier for an incorrigible rug-wrecker to do his
worst. Every yard has one!
Weather conditions can change
So you now hopefully have an idea
of your horse’s requirements – but sadly no idea of what the winter holds. Back
in the day, there was a one type suits all philosophy to horse rugs for winter
– all clipped horse wore the bog standard New Zealand rugs or basic jute
blankets from November to April – but fortunately we’ve come a long way both
with technological advances and improved knowledge of a horse’s needs. Not only
can you buy light, medium or heavy weight blankets – starting in autumn with a
light or medium weight, and using the heavier weight in the depths of winter –
you can also layer them, building up protection as required.Let your horse be your guide – if he’s
sweating up under his rugs, lose a layer; if he’s tense and miserable, with any
exposed hair on end and cold at the base of the ears, you can add a layer.
|“horse play” by bambe1964 is licensed under CC BY 2.0|
As we all know, horses represent a
massive responsibility and commitment and rely totally on us for their comfort,
health and wellbeing. Keeping him warm and protected from the elements over the
winter is just one small part of that – wild horses may well survive reasonably
well in some fairly trying conditions, but we choose to clip our horses in
order to keep them in work, so it’s up to us to make sure they stay well, warm,
dry and protected.
Do you have horses? What do you do differently to look after them in the colder months?
Where to find me