Much like humans, horses also get affected every time the season changes. With varying weather conditions, it is essential that they get the proper care and protection to keep them warm and comfortable.
While most animals are known to be capable of regulating their body temperature, in some cases, they might need a little help, especially as they start to age. That’s where a horse rug can be beneficial.
To help you start, here are some pointers on how to choose a horse rug for every season.
During the cold and wet season, the ideal choice for horse rugs is medium to heavy-weighted rugs. This is because thicker rugs can provide more warmth than lightweight ones. However, that might not be the case always. Because depending on your horse’s age, weight, breed, and conditions, the appropriate horse rug varies.
For instance, a too old or too young horse may find it difficult to maintain and regulate its body temperature, as compared to a young and healthy one. That said, you can opt for heavy-weighted rugs for the former and lightweight for the latter.
Moreover, you should also consider if the horse’s hair has recently been clipped. If that’s the case, a heavyweight rug can be your best option. But if not, a thick rug might make your horse too hot and uncomfortable.
You should also consider the fabric of the rug. Ensure to get a horse rug that’s waterproof or one that’s made of breathable fabric. Breathable fabric can help prevent dampness and condensation if the horse gets too warm under the blanket and starts sweating.
Another season horse owners and handlers must prepare for is the hot and humid season.
A light horse rug should suffice during summer. The thinness of the fabric will ensure that no heat is retained as the horse is out in the field. The chosen light-weighted fabric should also be breathable for adequate airflow allowing the horse’s skin to breathe as it loses heat.
Additionally, many insects are out and about during the summer and might become a nuisance to your grazing horses. Therefore, it’s advisable to have an insect-proof horse rug, especially if your horse has low immunity or is prone to itching. Most insect-proof rugs are made of mesh fabric to keep the insects away. Others are infused with insect-repellant for better comfort to your horse.
During the summer, the hot conditions are likely to have adverse effects on the horse, just like you experience sunburns. While the scorching sun won’t have the same effect on your horse, but it might fade the shade of its coat, especially if it’s black or dark brown. To prevent this, opt for a rug that has UV protection properties and is made of reflective material.
- Spring /Autumn
Choose a medium-filled rug and lean towards a light-filled one during Spring as it approaches the summer season. Pick a medium-filled horse rug for Autumn and adjust to a heavy-filled rug as days get colder into the Winter Season.
With the winter season preceding spring, there’s a high possibility that your horses have grown hair to accommodate the cold temperatures. Select a horse rug with a texture that helps the horse shed its winter hair. The most common horse rug used to assist in the shedding is the jute rug
General Horse Rug Guiding Principles
Aside from requirements based on seasons and varying weather conditions, you can also take into consideration the following parameters when choosing the best rug for your horse.
- Horse Rug Style
There are different horse rug styles available for you to choose from. Some have neck-style designs that can be standard, which reaches a horse’s withers, a combo, which goes until behind the ear, or a detached, which can be standard or combo.
If your horse loves the outdoors and is always out basking or grazing, pick a rug with a standard neck style. The standard neck style exposes most of its skin, making it comfortable as it enjoys the weather.
- Horse’s Size and Weight
Horses vary in weight and size, and therefore they each have different needs and requirements. It’s therefore essential to consider the horse’s size.
For instance, the rug shouldn’t be too large such that it overweighs the horse. An oversized rug has the same effect as you wearing an oversized jacket. A lot of fatigue will be experienced, which isn’t desirable. The rug shouldn’t be too small as well since a small horse rug will cling to the horse’s skin, which may hinder the horse’s movement and comfort.
Choosing the appropriate rug for your horse is an important responsibility. As the seasons and weather conditions continue to change, you must ensure the safety, health, and protection of your equine companion.
While it is good to consider season requirements, it is also equally important to note that not all horses are the same and what suits one might not fit the other. That said, referring to the helpful tips and guidelines above can be a great start in choosing the best rug for your horse.