Horse Massage Blog

Over Ruggin

In Australia, Over Rugging of horses is prevalent due to it often staying quite warm in winter in the daytime, but often being quite wet.  If you do not need thermals on, neither does your horse.  Especially if they have a coat.  This becomes a welfare issue when we think about the horse's homeostasis and ability to sweat.

Homeostasis is the ability of warm-blooded animalsto maintain their internal environment within tight physiological limits despitechanges in the external environment.

Sweating is the mechanism by which horses and manyother animals remove heat from the body. If sweating is prevented from occurringby, for example, an impervious rug, the animal will overheat and develop heatstress. In other words, the horse effectively begins to cook in its own juicesbecause homeostasis cannot be maintained and then the body systems will start tomalfunction and break down.

Generally a horse can keep itself warm or cool through the use of homeostasis.  When we change things such as extreme conditions like exercise and rugging it becomes more difficult for them.  We don't like our horses to get to hot in summer, but the same goes in winter as well.  Horses can adapt very well to their environment.  You often see horses in England naked in the snow.  They are suffering less then our beautiful pet with a cotton, Woolen and Doona in an Australian winter. 

When you remove a horse's coat then yes, you do need to supplement their rugs to compensate, but think about what you're wearing before you think about what rugs your horse is wearing. 

It's also important to check how waterproof your rugs are.  A naked horse will stay warmer in the rain, then a horse wearing a rug that's wet on the inside.  Horses can stand their hair up to trap a layer of warm air, and the natural oils in their coat act as a water repellant.  When your rugs get wet, this is unable to occur and the horse will not maintain warmth.  It's like you wearing a wet pair of socks in your boots when it's cold!

Before the cold weather arrives, please talk to your agistment centre owner or think about for yourself, what your horse really needs in terms of rugs.

If you want a wide choice of quality rugs, Equestricare is able to get Horseware Ireland's entire range at a discounted price.  View the rugs here:

posted by Jessica Blackwell | 1 Comments


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