Ensuring that your horse is well kept is going to be your number one priority, as their health is extremely important. From giving them the best quality horse feeds to providing them with a cosy stable to sleep in, your horse’s wellbeing will be one of the most important things in your life. One thing that can impact their health is the time of year, and it can be tricky to know how to look after them best. Keeping them warm is essential, and different seasons often require a different approach. Autumn in particular can be a confusing season, as the temperature can vary considerably from one day to the next. Rugging at this time of year can seem impossible to get right And you may be wondering if you need to rug them at all! So, keep reading and find out just whether or not you should be rugging your horse in autumn.
A turnout rug is a great tool to use in the autumn, as it helps to keep your horse clean so getting ready to ride is a quicker process. It will depend on your horse and the weather though on how heavy a rug you go for. It is worth investing in both a lightweight turnout rug as well as a thicker one that you can use when the days are colder. Some horses feel the cold a lot more than others and will therefore need a heavier weight rug. Older horses and breeds such as Thoroughbreds are most likely to need thicker rugs whereas natives and cobs can be turned out in lightweight rugs to keep them cleaner and reduce your work!
Autumn nights can be very cold, so a warm stable rug is often needed and again, most typically for older horses. However, over-rugging is a common problem and may contribute to some horses gaining too much weight. Many breeds are very good doers and winter is a time for them to naturally lose a bit of weight which is beneficial in helping to stop them becoming obese. Our natural instinct is to wrap them up in thick rugs and ensure they are cosy and we may actually be doing their health a disservice. If your horse isn’t clipped and is stabled in winter, they may well not need a thick rug at all.
Possible downsides to rugging a horse
A poorly fitting rug can cause rubbing – this is often visible on the shoulders as this is where there is most friction when the horse moves. To help guard against this it is possible to use an under layer often referred to as shoulder guards. Some are available in fabrics that are soft and silky whereas others are made of stretchy but clingy fabric. These are particularly useful if you want to go to shows where bare patches caused by rugs rubbing are particularly unsightly.
If you’re not sure about which rug to use for your horse you can ask your trainer or visit your local retailer and ask them for advice and guidance.