Proper equestrian equipment is essential for those who wish to take care proper of their horse, especially when the winter months hit. There are a few different options when it comes to winter horse rugs. Most horses can tolerate low temperatures, however, sometimes horses need a winter rug for extra protection against the cold weather and the elements.
Which horses need rugs in winter?
You may consider a winter horse rug if:
- Temperatures are low enough to cause discomfort
- It’s raining, snowing, or windy
- To keep your horse’s coat short enough for competing
- To keep your very young or senior horse warm
- To lower to cost of feeding during the colder months
- To keep horses with a compromised immune system healthy
- To comfort a horse who has moved from a warm climate to a colder one acclimatise
- To help keep your horse’s coat and body in top condition for competition
If you decide your horse needs a winter rug, here are some tips for choosing the right kind.
Choosing the Right Winter Horse Rugs: Synthetic and Canvas Rugs
The decision to buy winter horse rugs is one that needs to be considered. You need to be consistent, otherwise your horse risks facing cold or respiratory disease.
The most important to consider is your horse’s purpose (stable or turnout) and weight. Horses should have both a stable and turnout rug, as the two have different purposes.
When it comes to winter horse rugs, there are two main kinds: synthetic and canvas rugs. Synthetic winter horse rugs are usually made from nylon or polyester and have several benefits: lightweight, easy to clean and maintain, versatile, and they usually come in a variety of colours and styles. Synthetic rugs sometimes include attachments for additional liners to adjust warmth levels throughout the year, so they are adaptable for all seasons.
Canvas winter horse rugs are made from natural materials such a cotton or wool, and usually offer greater insulation than synthetic rugs. Typically, canvas rugs are tough, breathable, flexible, and versatile. Usually with these rugs, you can add or remove layers to regulate temperature, so they are useable for every season.
However, unlike synthetic rugs, canvas rugs are heavy, and difficult to clean. They tend to hold moisture instead of repelling it unless you apply a waterproofing treatment on the regular.
It’s important to choose a rug that is versatile and adaptable to the ever-changing weather conditions. Synthetic winter horse rugs are usually the better choice, as they are wind and water-resistant, lightweight, and easy to maintain. It is essential, however, to choose a rug suitable to your individual horse’s needs.
Your horse’s activity level factors into the type of rug you choose. If your horse is stabled during the day and only gets out for a few hours of the day, it won’t need the same level of insulation as a horse that is outside 24/7. Young, elderly, and immune-compromised horses will need varying levels of protection than healthy horses. Once you have decided which type of winter horse rug is best, it’s important to consider the weight.
Winter horse rugs – which weight you should you get?
When choosing your horse’s, there are a few factors to consider. The weight of the rug needs to be adjusted according to the horse’s health, whether it’s clipped, how it reacts to temperatures and rugging, and the changes in temperature in the paddock. Here’s a quick guide to choosing between weights:
- 0 g very lightweight, this rug is designed to protect your horse from rain and wind in the paddock. It can also be used in the sable for shaved horses when temperatures drop to around 10-15 degrees inside.
- 50-150 g this is a lightweight rug, suitable for the beginning of the colder months, when the temperature drops to approximately 5-10 degrees. These winter horse rugs are also recommended for extra protection for senior horses or those with a compromised or weakened immune system.
- 200-300 g winter horse rugs of this weight are usually used when the temperature is around 0 degrees, or below 0.
- 400-500 g and more of these winter horse rugs are used in the case of severe frost or snow, especially for shaved horses.
Underblankets are also a good idea, since they can be used to increase the weight of a standard blanket. For shaved horses and those with weakened immune systems, it’s recommended to use a hooded blanket.
So, what’s the verdict on winter horse rugs?
Every horse is different, which makes horse rugging so complex. Even though a blanket is necessary in freezing cold weather, sometimes the additional protection can do more harm than good and put your horse at risk. It’s paramount to make a decision based on your knowledge of your horse.