Knowing what rug your horse requires can be tricky and surprisingly it's one the most asked questions here at R&R Country. Horses are unique and one horse will feel the cold differently to another - what is right for one horse may not be right for yours. To help you decide what is best for your horse, we have compiled some useful information and tips on rugging your horse and what rug weights are ideal for the seasonal changes.
Please note, this is merely a guide - we understand all horses are different and what may be suitable for one horse may not be right for yours. If you feel you horse is too hot or too cold, you should monitor accordingly and choose a rug that suits their needs.
What to consider when rugging a horse?
There are many factors to consider when deciding what rug to put on your horse. The first one being the weather... It may sounds silly, but ask yourself this - is the weather cold or is it 'wet and windy' cold? The wind factor will make the temperature feel lower than it truly is - this is what a meteorologist would describe as a 'feels like temperature'.
Secondly, is your horse clipped or unclipped? A horses coat will provide a natural defence against the cold, however if this is clipped off they will be more vulnerable to the winter chills and require extra protection - this extra protection can indeed be achieved by adding a horse rug.
You may also need to consider if your horse is stabled or living out... Stabled horses will naturally be more sheltered from the elements, whereas horses living out may need something a little heavier when the temperatures plummet and the wintery gales blow in. Stables that are contained in a barn will naturally be warmer than outdoor stables with open windows - this is also something that should be considered when deciding on a rug weight.
The final consideration should be your horse's overall condition. If they are carrying a little weight you can rug less to manage this. Horses will burn calories to stay warm (rug management can be a great way to assist with weight loss). On the flip side, horses that are in need of more condition may need a heavier weight rug to reduce this risk of them dropping any further weight in trying to keep warm.
A Guide To Horse Rug Weights
Horse rugs are generally categorised into lightweight rugs, mediumweight rugs and heavyweight rugs. Lightweight horse rugs are usually under 100g in fill/wadding, mediumweights are usually between 100g - 250g, and heavyweight horse rugs are categorised as having over 300g in filling/wadding.
As mentioned previously, it is not just the weather that should be considered when choosing a horse rug and other factors should be analysed before making your choice - this is merely a guide to assist you when choosing a suitable horse rug.
Lightweight Horse Rugs
Lightweight horse rugs are ideal for warmer autumn days where a mediumweight horse rug would be too warm.
0g fill - ideal for mild days with a forecast of rain. These rugs have no filling and will merely act as a rain sheet to keep your horse dry and clean.
50g fill - similar to the above but with the addition of a 50g fill for a little warmth. These rugs are ideal for clipped horses or for use on a day/night where a little protection is needed
100g fill - horse rugs that are crafted with a 100g fill will provide adequate warmth for horses turned out over night or clipped when the temperatures are low double figures.
Mediumweight Horse Rugs
Mediumweight rugs are generally used when the temperatures drop below double figures as they provide a good level of wadding/fill (150g - 250g). Again, ensure you take into consideration the factors discussed above such as clipping and indoor/outdoor living arrangements.
Clipped horses may need a mediumweight before an unclipped horse even if temperatures are lower figures as their natural coat is a great defence mechanism against the cold - horses do not feel the cold as we do, so it is important to check how they feel to prevent overheating or chills.
Heavyweight Horse Rugs
Heavyweight horse rugs are usually categorised as over 300g in weight. They are ideal for providing optimum warmth when the winter weather truly hits.
300g+ - If your horse is clipped out and the temperatures drop low, a heavyweight rug may be what your horse requires. Please note, a non-clipped horse may be able to live in a lighter rug for longer. However, when the temperatures and weather really do start to drop, a heavyweight rug may also be an option for an unclipped horse too (as an approximate guide, when temperatures drop to negative doubles (-10) a heavyweight rug may be required for an unclipped horse, especially if they live out).
We hope this blog has provided some insight into the type of rug your horse may/may not need. Please be aware that this is purely a guide and every horse is individual and feels the cold in different ways.