To Rug Or Not To Rug? -winter addition-

People rug their horses for all kinds of reasons BUT the most common mistake is rugging our horses because WE are feeling cold and well lets admit it, they are out babies and we don’t want them to feel even the lightest chill but we have to remember that they grow winter coats for this reason WINTER!

Types Of Rugs -winter addition-

  1. stable sheet (no fill and only worn inside)
  2. stable rug (has fill but not waterproof)
  3. turnout sheet (waterproof with no fill)
  4. turnout rug (waterproof with fill for warmth)
  5. Canvas wool lined (waterproof and wool for warmth)
  6. Canvas un lined (essentially a rain sheet but not synthetic material)


Why Rug?

  1. If your horse is stabled for most of the day or even night it is recommended to rug your horse even with just a stable rug (used for well you guessed it.. the stable) this is because when your horse is stabled they are unable to move around enough to warm themselves up that’s where the rug comes in handy.
  2. If your horse is underweight, old or sick it important to rug your horse to make sure they can keep as much of their energy for what you could call backups just incase there is a lot of rain and their rug gets really wet they can use that energy to keep warm.
  3. This one being fairly obvious but if your horse is clipped you should be rugging it.
  4. Rugging can also assist your horse in not growing out a large amount of it full and thick winter coat this is usually done by riders who are going to be participating in events during the colder months but do not wish to clip their horses.

Australian Temperature Guide 

Horses with a full winter coat can keep themselves warm in temperatures’ well below zero. Unlike humans who begin to feel the cold at temps as low as 12 degrees, horses critical temperature level (in which they can no longer exert energy to keep warm) is -7 degrees. below I will insert a table showing the recommended rugging for horses please remember this is only a guide and also directed towards horses in Australia. As a horse owner you should or should consider finding out how your horses is during our colder months finding out if your horse runs hot or not is vital in the rugging process. If you are not sure always remember it is better to UNDER rug than to OVER rug your horses and it is recommended to use a cotton sheet under your horses winter rugs not only because it makes it easier to keep the rug clean and free of horse hairs but it also helps to absorb your horses sweat if they are a horse that runs hot. This doesn’t mean that you should rug your hot running horse with a cotton sheet and a heavy winter rug but gives you piece of mind during the process of working out what types of rugs work best for your horse that you are helping to avoid them overheating in that process.

rule of thumb is if your horse is sweating under their winter rug is probably way to heavy for them. unlike us when we want to keep warm we usually go for a nice heavy blanket or coat but a horse will actually consume hay to help keep their body warm and also run around enough to keep itself nice and warm. If your horse is clearly shivering and its ears are cold than this is a sign that they are in fact cold and do need rugging but again each horse is different.

You will also need to consider the weather conditions.

For example (the following again is my own opinion and what I do with MY horses)

On a sunny day with no breeze and no forecasted rain I let the girls run naked.. this being 15 degrees and above.

On a slightly sunny/cloudy day with a light breeze and forecasted rain I will rug both girls with a no fill rain sheet (turnout rug) the weather being 15 degrees or above (it gets fairly windy where we are and the girls have no protection unless they are willing to walk into the wind to get to their shelter..)

On days lower than 12 degrees I will rug PIP in a winter rug (220gram fill) with a cotton sheet under as pip seems to be fine and doesn’t run hot unlike Amy who I will keep in a rain sheet unless we have heavy rain then I will put her in a winter rug which is also 220gram fill which is way to warm for her but at the moment its all I have and I really only use it if it has been raining for most of the day and I feel she needs a little something over night.

For a horse like pip (19 rising ) overnight I like to put her winter rug on but Amy will continue to wear her rain sheet again unless it is pouring with rain and then I will have her winter rug on if it is wet and under 6 degrees.

An added note in which I hear recently is that if you go onto your phones weather app and read the temperature it will usually say for example:

outside temp is 10.3 degrees

feels like 5.5 degrees..

if the feels like temperature is any more than 2 degrees lower than the actual temperature it is best to go by the feels like temp.

Apparently we are in for a warmer winter than usual so fingers crossed there will be more riding on the agenda for myself and Amy.

On a high note its day 2 of winter and it hasn’t been that bad I’m loving the sunshine and so are the girls! it was definitely a no rug kind of day here..

*All information was sourced via google, blogs saddleries and books mashed into my own words… none of this is 100% accurate and purely my own opinion and understanding going by my horses and my own knowledge*


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