Although your horse may be fairly resistant to the surrounding circumstances without a rug during each season, a rug can give them maximum comfort during harsh weather conditions.
Horses are warm-blooded and are therefore able to regulate their body temperatures. Their coats act as an insulator depending on the thickness and depth of the layer of hair. More resistant coats grow during cold seasons in certain breeds of horses and ponies. Their coats are naturally waxed which allow their skin repel water that prevents the horse from getting wet.
Excessive grooming of the horse can remove their useful oils. Avoid grooming your horse excessively especially during the winter. Longer hairs on the horse’s coat enable water to flow down the coat without infiltrating into the inner layer of the skin hairs.
It is important to note the following before you decide to rug your horse:
- Observe the horse’s behaviors during cold seasons. Horses quickly adapt to the cold seasons. They develop a habit of facing away from the direction of the wind and turning their backs against the rain to shield their heads. Similarly, they might seek to shelter under trees or by natural hedges. They sometimes huddle together to keep warm.
- The presence of frost and snow on the horse’s back is an indication of its insulation. A minimal amount of body heat escapes the skin to defrost its body.
The horse’s adaptation to the turnout rug
Many animals shave evolved to accustom themselves to harsh weather conditions over time. Horses are included in this. It is common for us to empathize with our animals. However, we worry too much about the animals and end up keeping them in stables, unnecessarily feeding them and rugging them. It might be a beautiful sight to see a horse with a rug but your pony might be well adapted to survive without one.
Putting a rug on your horse may affect its ability to regulate its temperatures effectively. The arrector pili muscles of the hairs need to be exercised in order to be best adapted to their functions. The rug on your horse’s back affects its ability to function well when the need calls.
Rugging does brings warmth differences at different parts of the horse’s body but it might compromise the horse’s ability to regulate its temperature naturally. Horses are adapted to use their body fat to keep warm during cold seasons. It is a common practice to overfeed the horses to enhance their fat layers. However, it might cause excessive weight gain and even laminitis. Rugs can also affect the horse’s ability to control its weight naturally.
Know when to rug your horse
In case you restrict your horse’s movement, it is better to rug them. Similarly, rug your lighter breeds and aged horses to keep them warm. If you feed your horses appropriately, keep them in huddles and provide shelter for them, they will easily adapt themselves naturally to the cold.