What to consider when rugging your horse

What to consider when rugging your horse

Just like most things in the equine industry, covering your horse comes with a lot of judgement, confusion and opinions. So, we have put together some information and things to consider when choosing the perfect rug for your horse.

Don’t know what fill is, or what size rug you need? Check out our rug guide HERE for all that information 


Where do you live?

As you can imagine, climate is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a rug for your horse. Do you live up North where its warmer but wet, or do you live down South where its cold yet dry? Has your horse just moved from a warmer climate to a colder one? If so, you may need to rug them a bit more than usual until they adjust to the change in temperature.


Does your horse run hot or cold?

This is another big factor to consider when rugging your horse. Every horse is different and will require a bespoke approach. For example, heavier set breeds like draft horses will usually grow thicker coats, meaning they probably wont need as heavy of a rug, where as a thoroughbred will often have a thinner coat and require more protection from the elements.


What’s your horses’ body condition?

Body condition is also a very important factor to consider. If your horse is overweight, it is worth considering using the colder weather to help regulate their weight. Horses naturally fluctuate in condition based on the climate and type of forage that is available at the time. On the contrary, if your horse is underweight, adding a rug so they don’t have to use their energy to stay warm is a great option. For more information on using the cold weather as a diet tool, check out this KER article HERE


How much forage is available?

Horses need forage (food) to keep warm. If you are low on grass or hay, then using a rug to conserve energy can be a great option. Note: It’s important to remember horses are grazing animals and require access to roughage (grass or hay) 24/7 for optimal health. To learn more about how much forage your horse needs check out this article HERE


How much shelter do you have?

Does your horse have access to their own shelter from the wind or rain? If so, you may be able to leave your horse unrugged or lightly rugged as they can regulate their own temperature naturally.


Are you cold?

Horses are different to us and have different requirements so just because we are cold, doesn’t necessarily mean they are. A thermoneutral zone is the range where the body temperature can be maintained with little to no energy expenditure. Humans have a narrow range of 21 - 28 °C, but horses' thermoregulatory zone is 5 - 25°C. 


Does your horse like being rugged?

This may seem odd, but some horses will actually tell you when they want to be rugged or not. I have found that some horses will walk away when you go to put the rug on but on colder days they will stand still and vice versa for horses that feel the cold. They will often put their ears back when you go to remove the rug which could indicate they want to keep it on. Listen to your horse and get a feel for what they require. There is an interesting study done on this which is well worth a read, you can find it HERE


Always rug down

If it’s one of those days and you just can’t decide what rug fill to put on your horse, always go down a fill. A horse can warm itself up by eating more or moving but they can’t cool themselves down (unless you have plenty of shade)


Feeling more confident now? Or more confused? Feel free to touch base with us at sales@nztack.co.nz with your horses specific details and we can help you decide on the perfect rug!

For all information ‘horses’ we highly recommend the Kentucky Equine Research website. You can check them out HERE


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