It’s that time of year when WE notice that it’s got a little colder and we dig out our fleeces and jumpers. And many of us are likely to do the same for our horses, unpacking the stable and turnout rugs we packed away in late Spring. BUT, horses don’t feel the cold in the same way we do.
Why? The answer is pretty straightforward – they are around 7 times heavier than us and covered in hair. Although they are 7 times heavier, they don’t have 7 times more skin surface. In fact, it’s only around 2.5 times more. The skin surface is the key to retaining or losing heat as this is the main route horses lose heat in cooler weather. That’s why in nature if you live in a cold climate it’s generally an advantage to be large and if you live in a hot climate it’s an advantage to be small – and yes there are exceptions to this, such as elephants!
So the temptation is to start over-rugging horses at this time of year because we are feeling cold and putting on more layers. Over-rugging may make your horse or pony feel uncomfortable and unhappy. It’s also not good for coat and skin health and it may even contribute to obesity.
What rug should I use? There are a lot of things to consider and there is no one-size-fits-all, but some general rules do apply.