Winter is Coming (Rugging your horse)

My vet recently posted this in regards to rugging your horse.

We’re seeing a lot more rugs appearing in fields over the last week or so. If you’re tempted to rug your horse consider the following and be honest with yourself.

– if my horse/pony is obese, unclipped and lives out he/she does not require a rug (use winter to your advantage to allow your horse to safely gradually lose some weight and dramatically reduce his/her laminitis risk for the spring time – laminitis kills)
– horses have a much lower thermoneutral zone (the temperature range where they do not have to expend energy to keep warm) than humans. Horses 5-25 degrees. Humans 20-35 degrees. This means that if you’re cold your horse may not be cold.
– horses have a caecum which acts as a giant internal combustion engine producing heat – the human equivalent is the appendix which produces no heat
– horses that are overheated by excessive rugging can suffer heatstroke, colic and stress – this is particularly difficult to avoid at this time of year when temperatures vary
– a survey recently found that peer pressure was the biggest factor in influencing an owners decision to rug their horse

Consider body condition scoring your horse to keep tabs on their condition over winter –…/how-body-score-your-horse

And here’s a rough guide to rug weights that may be suitable –…/temperature-guide-to-rugging-a-ho…

Remember every horse is different and if you would like to discuss your individual horse/pony’s management over winter speak to your vet/vet nurse who will be able to help guide you.


It is a very good reminder and I am glad my vet posted it or to be honest I would start reaching for the rugs. My mare is out naked at the moment and I plan on keeping her that way until the temperature drops, only when it is raining heavily will she get a light rain sheet on but nothing else. The reason for this is I plan on using the winter to get a bit of weight off of her, she is not obese but she does need to drop a few pounds.

However, with this being said, I do plan on clipping her probably come November as that is the next time the farrier is out and she will be nice and sleepy for clipping but until then it will be a rain sheet or nothing.

I also agree that peer pressure plays a massive factor when it comes to what we do with our horses especially when it comes to rugging them, obviously it depends a lot on the breed and the weight of the horse in question, but it is hard to not rug your horse when all others in the field are starting to get layers on.

What do you think ?

What temperature do you tend to start putting rugs on ?

11 thoughts on “Winter is Coming (Rugging your horse)

  1. We do not get really cold winters here in Australia, however I do start to rug with a light canvas rug ( to keep the dew off in the early morning) when it hits a few weeks into winter. When it is less than 10 degree’s celcius my older horse (28) gets a fleece. Anything below 7 and my other horses are fleeced also. Perhaps i am overdoing it HMMMMM

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In Ontario we start to put on cotton sheets in the barn at night when temps go below 10 Celsius. Then the turnout blanketing depends on temperature and weather and if the horse is clipped or not. I go with a rain sheet if temps do not go above 10 C daytime and if there is rain. Once he is clipped then it is into a lined blanket indoors and a heavier outdoor blanket . Finally for the below freezing temps, snow etc it is into the serious polar blankets with full neck.

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  3. My old Arab was susceptible to rain rot, so I usually put a light, waterproof rug on him to help with that as it does rain quite a bit in Western Washington. I always preferred to let his natural winter coat come in, but if it was wet and cold, I would put a rug on him.

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  4. My TB doesn’t grow much of a coat. Under 50 degrees F I use a sheet, and under 40 I go up to med. On really frigid days (~10 or below) he even has a heavier rug with hood (Weatherbeeta med but seems like heavy).

    I also enjoy giving him a warm beetpulp/alfalfa mash

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  5. Totally agree about peer pressure. I typically clip my horses in winter (usually in November) but still use a fairly light rug. My last mare always ran hot, so even though we have snowy, cold winters, I rarely felt the need to use a heavy weight blanket

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  6. I would at a many different stables and they each have their own belief in blanketing. Some don’t blanket at all, and others (mainly show barns) blanket the second the temperature starts dropping. Personally, I’m a fan of letting me horse tell me what he wants. He’s not shy about it.

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  7. We put rugs on the horses that need it once it starts to get around 12c with the windchill factor taken into consideration, but one of ours is a ‘cold’ horse who needs rugs much earlier than the others!

    Liked by 1 person

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