Ashra McAvinue of Te Rangi Horses offers Riding Lessons and Horsemanship Clinics.
Auckland really can be four seasons in one day, and such a variety of temperatures and conditions. Usually this is more common outside of our peak summer months, but this year - even summer was a challenge with cyclones and wild weather conditions galore.
How I use horse covers in summer
Typically in the summer my horses are turned out 24 hours a day in cotton sheets. I prefer full cotton sheets as I have found that these stand up to the antics of my horses in the field the best!
On the weekends if I am at home I often whip covers off completely and let the horses spend time naked - it must be so good to be able to have a proper scratch from time to time! Our property has four paddocks and two are slightly shadier, so I tend to allow more naked time when the horses are in this pasture as I'm wary that the heat in the height of summer can be a lot on a naked horse. The long term plan is to get a bit more shade established in all our pastures!
This summer however, I used the Waterproof Mesh Crossover horse cover (already a favourite of mine) a lot more than I would normally. With cyclones and intermittent wet conditions this cover really was a godsend, keeping the horses dry over their backs, but not cooking if the temperatures suddenly increased.
My winter horse rug routine
Being based in Hunua has great advantages as we are on a hilly family farm dotted in lovely NZ bush with lots of fantastic fitness terrain.
The drawback is the mud! I don't personally own huge areas of grazing and our ground being predominantly clay isn't as free draining as other parts of New Zealand.
After battling several winters with abscesses and skin conditions I decided to build some covered yarding and try a different approach. My horses are now in airy covered yards during the day to allow dry time for feet and skin, and turned out from the afternoon onwards. In mild temperatures they are naked in their boxes during the day, with their 100gm waterproof rugs on overnight…in colder months they have a sheet or a doona on in the boxes during the day.
As I ride and compete over winter, I have the horses clipped during the cooler months. A 100gm cover is usually sufficient for most of winter on my fully clipped horses. On the odd occasion if temps get quite low I will pop on a 200gm - but only on a fully clipped horse, and only overnight, if it is under 5 degrees.
I have to admit I am a bit of a cover hoarder and I do like to collect a few - it's always nice to know you have a bone dry cover in the tackshed to throw over the horses backs - especially in the really wet months when the horses are coming in fairly sodden in the mornings.
I also like - if and when the budget allows - to have separate paddock rugs in the truck for shows. It's much nicer handling a clean rug when you are out and about and dressed in show gear, rather than dragging your paddock rugs out with you…especially if they are caked in Hunua clay!
I am currently working from home which means I can make adjustments on most days if the weather conditions change. If / when I'm away from home, I opt for the least amount of heating in a rug for the conditions, as I am aware that over-rugging tends to create more discomfort for the horses than slightly under-rugging.
As long the horses are dry over their backs the wind chill is taken care of, I believe they should be comfortable.
nztack horse cover styles & features
As I mentioned above - the nztack mesh crossover is a solid favourite of mine for our varied Auckland conditions. I have had super wear out of my mesh crossovers… they are two seasons down and into their 3rd, they are still going strong.
This winter I have the Duke 1200D Combo with 100gm fill on hand. The cobalt blue colour is so divine - these ones are going into the truck to be used for shows!
One thing I particularly like about these rugs is the generous shoulder gussets. Once the horses are clipped, their shoulders are particularly prone to rubbing - these long gussets are fantastic for avoiding unsightly and, highly likely, uncomfortable shoulder rubs.
Other features I am impressed with in these rugs are the clips and buckle quality. I find it really puzzling when companies create a rug with small and fragile clips on the leg straps - a decent strap and clip is imperative!
Lastly - I like the generous neck - I always check the front of my horses covers and neck strapping to ensure there is minimal interference with their grazing posture.
Although I have only recently acquired the Duke 1200 combo, I don't doubt looking at the shoulder dart design and quality of the clips and strapping that this rug will not disappoint!
If the longevity of the mesh crossover is an indicator, I would say the Duke will last me a good few winters.
Thanks nztack for another lovely cover design to add to my horses' growing wardrobes!
Here is TR Horizon all snuggly with his clip under a Duke Combo.