Rugs - Why and When to Rug your Horse
All you need to know about rugs, and what each weight is needed for...
With the weather constantly changing, we are always questioning ourselves when it comes to rugging our horses; ‘does he need a rug?’ ‘shall I leave him naked tonight?’ ‘I’m freezing today, I’m going to use the medium weight’ and so on... We’re hoping this blog helps you choose the right rug every time, for your horses’ best interest.
Let’s start with the horse...
Horses don’t feel the cold like we do. Horses have a much wider thermoneutral zone than us: starting to feel the cold at 0°C and feeling hot around 25°C. Therefore, when you’re feeling the cold, our horses are still comfortable which is why we should never judge how to rug, by our own temperature gauge. They also create warmth by thermoregulation (internal body temperature at approx. 38°C) – caused by energy stored in the food your horse eats. When the food is broken down inside the cells of the body or by fermentation of fibre, thus creating energy. Horses also hold heat very well! You’ll notice if your horse is naked when they do start to feel the cold, their hair will begin to stand up to creating a ‘warmth shield’ – if your horse is clipped, he may need an extra gram of rug to act like a ‘warmth shield’ (We’ll discuss this more later). As you may also know, rugging can be dependent on age and weight. For example, horses use a considerable amount of energy to keep warm, therefore if heavily rugged, any excess energy will be deposited as fat – an already overweight horse can be putting more weight on due to their rugging schedules and vice-versa.
How to judge if they’re cold or not; the majority of people will say to feel your horses’ ears as an indication of whether they’re too hot, or cold. However, this has been proven to be a poor judgment. Instead, please your hand inside the rug, by the withers – change the weight or add a rug if they feel cold, or if it’s feeling humid/ damp go down a weight or remove the rug.
Now onto rug weights. First the lightest...
No fill rugs; cotton mixes, mesh, including fly rugs or net fabrics (coolers). Perfect to use for traveling and those warmer summer days.
The mesh rugs can be used to keep your horse cool and prevent their coat from fading in the sun whilst turned out. Offering natural breathability for the skin to ensure any sweat can still evaporate. The cotton sheets and net fabrics will be perfect for after exercise or when traveling, absorbing sweat and again helping that evaporation process, therefore cooling your horse.
Our top pick -Weatherbeeta Fleece Cooler Standard Neck in the NEW Racoon Print. £53.99
Lite and Lite plus; 0g to 50g, perfect for cool-sunny spring and autumn weather.
These turnouts are great to keep your horse dry on a wet summer’s day and can act as a ‘wind shield’, keeping the cooler air off their skin even when sunny. As mentioned at the beginning, horses’ hair will stand up to keep helping them to keep warm – this is unable to happen if they’re wearing a rug, more so on clipped horses. Therefore, with the 0g fill, you need to ensure they will not become cold from condensation happening between the horses’ skin and the inside of the rug. Here, the slight condensation can make the horse colder, therefore a slight 50g fill can be the better option for clipped horses.
Our top pick - Weatherbeeta Comfitec Plus Dynamic II Standard Neck Lite in the NEW Maroon at £107.99. Available with detach, standard, and combo neck.
Medium/Lite and Medium weight; 100g to 250g. Providing a good level of warmth for your horse, mostly used through autumn and early spring (coming out of winter).
This weight bracket begins to act as a ‘coat’ for your horse, to be used when you have colder nights towards the 0°C, mark when stabled, especially for unclipped horses. And the perfect weight for turnout during the day when temperatures are around 5°C -10°C. Again, this can all depend on the weight and age of your horse.
Our top picks - Weatherbeeta Comfitec Essential Standard Neck Medium Navy at £85.49! And the NEW Green-Tec Stable Standard Neck Medium / Lite at £89.99
Heavyweight; anywhere upwards of 300g. Will be used for freezing winter weather temperatures, on horses most sensitive to the colder weather, and clipped coats.
These rugs are the most warming. To be used when temperatures dip below 0°C, into minus, and perfect for keeping your horses’ clipped coat in the best condition when temperatures are around the 0°C mark. Ideal for those older horses who may feel the cold more, who struggle to create the normal level of energy to keep them warm, compared to other horses.
Our top picks - Weatherbeeta Comfitec Essential Combo Neck Heavy in NEW Grey/Lime at £98.99 and the Comfitec Classic Combo Neck Heavy Red at £89.99.
Under Rugs and Liners; 100g-400g easy optional layer, these are essential for any horse wardrobe.
Used for many of the Weatherbeeta rug ranges, the liner systems can add versatility to your horses’ rugging by finding the perfect weight combination. These can be ideal for the older horse or for the constantly changing weather – which we seem to experience at the start of every season. Not only that, but you may prefer some wardrobe organisation by having fewer rugs, and more compatible liners - Check out more information here.
Our top pick - Weatherbeeta Comfitec Liner grey, available as Medium/lite, medium, or heavy weights - from £56.69.
Important: never forget to check your horses’ temperature by placing your hand under the rug to check for dampness - it’s so important to prevent your horse from overheating. Another key safety point to remember with your rugs is, a ripped rug is much better to have than an injured horse in the event of an emergency. Remember, you are never guaranteed a rug that will not rip– even with special ripstop technology which is aimed at stopping horses from destroying the rugs by biting.
Written by Becky Mead