Over rugging: A Rugging Guide

 

I find myself constantly wondering what rug to put on my mare Ruby who is a chunky cob.  I prefer having her in the lightest rugs possible and can see how easy it would be to over-rug, thinking it would be better to keep your horse warm than let them get cold. The biggest issue can be chilly mornings and warmer days, the horse may then sweat under the thick rug that was put on in the morning as you whizzed off to work. 

    

Horses are extremely good at regulating their own body temperature and are perfectly happy when the environmental temperature is between 5°c and 25°c.

 

It’s much easier for a horse to warm up than cool down and this is where the danger lies. A horse that can’t cool himself down sufficiently will potentially get heat stress.

 

First signs of a horse which has heat stress are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Restless/Colic like symptoms
  • Rapid heart and breathing rate
  • Lethargic
  • Dehydrated

 

If an obese horse is rugged too much it will prevent them from losing weight which can put them at risk of laminitis. Horses should gain weight during the summer and lose weight during the winter, by over rugging we mess with their hormone levels which as already mentioned, can lead to laminitis and other problems.

 

To help with the decision of what rug to put on Ruby daily, I use this chart which helps me to decide when I should be using certain rugs on her.

 

I hope that this guide helps people decide what rug their horse should wear and when to prevent over rugging!

 

See you soon,

Kirsty xx