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Horsey, it's cold outside! Which rug does my horse need?

Posted by Kimi Lehmann on

When we as humans get cold, horses only begin to feel really good. Horses have a different thermo-neutral zone. This means that the temperature range in which a horse is neither too warm nor too cold is between -15 and + 25 ° C, while the absolute comfort temperature for us humans is between 27 and 32 °C. Actually, this means that horses in european latitudes (mostly) do not need blankets. However, there are a few exceptions that we would like to introduce to you in the guide.

1. When does my horse need a rug?

Horses are good at regulating their own temperature. The so-called thermoregulation is an interplay of coat condition, body fat percentage, sweat gland activity, muscle contraction and vascular movement. If, for example, the horse is clipped or moves very little due to illness or age, the missing component of thermoregulation must be compensated for by using a rug.

Type of horses that should wear a rug:

  • Older and sick horses with weakened immune systems
  • Clipped horses
  • Horses whose natural fat layer is no longer intact due to excessive cleaning or washing

2. Which rug do I need?

Which rug your horse needs depends, among other things, on the following factors:

  • Housing type: Depending on the type of housing, the requirements for horse rugs also differ. If the horse is in the stable, it needs a stable rug. If the horse is kept in an open stable system or if it goes out to the paddock by the hour, a weatherproof rain or turnout winter blanket is necessary.
  • Weather conditions: The weather conditions are an important factor when choosing a suitable blanket. Depending on the weather, these can even vary hourly, so that it may be necessary to change a horse several times a day.
  • Coat condition: a horse that has not been clipped usually does not need a blanket. A blanket is necessary for clipped horses and also for horses that have problems with the formation of winter fur due to illness.
  • Breed: Robust breeds such as Icelandic horses or Fjord horses can in most cases do without blankets. Genetically, they have a pronounced insulating layer of fat and the winter coat is also more abundant than in other breeds.
  • Training: Body heat is mainly generated with the help of muscles. If a horse moves a lot on its own, it can be assumed that it needs less help with thermoregulation than a horse that is less active due to illness or nature.
  • Disease / old age: Thermoregulation demands a lot from the horse's organism. If this is weakened, for example due to a chronic illness, metabolic disorders or due to old age, the probability is greater that additional warmth in the form of a blanket is required.
  • The horse's individual perception of cold: Each horse has its own comfortable temperature in the area of ​​the thermo-neutral zone. Like us humans, the feeling of cold is very individual. Some horses prefer it to be warm, some only feel comfortable when temperatures are around minus point. Watch your horse and find out what type it belongs to!
  • If applicable, intended use (e.g. for riding out): The intended use defines the type of rug. In addition to outdoor and stable rugs, there are also exercise and walker rugs as well as sweat rugs for daily work with the horse, but also fly rugs and eczema rugs to protect the horse from insects.

3. Purchase advice for stable and outdoor rugs
Outdoor and stable rugs have in common that, in addition to unlined models, they are also available with various fillings. The fillings are given in grams / square meter. The question of which outdoor or stable blanket you need depends mainly on the factors of posture, outside temperature and coat position.

Find out which blanket you need for your horse:
My horse is in the stable: 
This overview is valid for stable rugs:

 My horse is out on the field all day/lives in an open stable system:
This overview is valid for Turnout rugs:

Please note that the choice of the right horse blanket in individual cases (e.g. due to age, illness or other anatomical & physiological peculiarities) may differ from the overview and is only intended as a rough guide. Especially in the case of chronic diseases or diseases of the musculoskeletal system (such as osteoarthritis), an additional cushion may be necessary or even be beneficial to health. Your horse's individual sensitivity to cold also plays a role. Robust breeds such as Icelandic horses or fjord horses usually do not need a blanket at all. Please keep in mind that you know your horse best and can best judge when it needs which blanket. If you are unsure which blanket is the right one for your horse, please contact our customer service.

Keyword Transition time
The transition period in autumn and spring is a particularly difficult phase in terms of "rug management". The temperatures fluctuate very strongly during the day, so that at night temperatures can drop below freezing point, while at noon it is t-shirt weather. Here horse owners have to deal with their horse individually, so that it may be necessary to change the rug several times a day. This may be laborious, but it protects against life-threatening heat build-up under the blanket! If you leave a horse with a thickly padded blanket in the paddock in mild temperatures and blazing sun for a long time, you risk circulatory collapse. 

Pay attention to the details when buying rain and winter blankets:

Fastenings: Fastenings on the chest and abdomen are standard. Outdoor blankets are usually closed on the stomach with cross surcingles for the best possible hold, stable rugs are sometimes also available without waist surcingles. Basically, the more straps, the better the hold. If your horse moves a lot and, for example, likes to roll around in the paddock or in the box, you should definitely pay attention to this. There are also different types of locks such as snap hooks, magnetic snap locks or the common T-lock, which can be opened differently (easily).
Folded: If the horse stands in the paddock for a longer period of time and moves a lot, the horse blanket should be equipped with generously cut folds.
Tail flap: Stable and outdoor rugs are optionally available with or without a tail flap. A generous tail flap provides additional protection from the cold, but also from rain running down the tail and down the thighs. Thus, the tail flap is a useful feature on rain and winter blankets.
Reflective details: are particularly recommended for rain rugs and winter rugs if the horse is still in the paddock in the early morning or in the evening hours. 

 

We hope we could help you a little bit with a general guide on which rug could suit your needs. In case you need more information or if  you have any more questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

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