As we move into spring it’s time to start thinking about your horse rug requirements for the warmer seasons. Whether or not to rug your horse in the spring and summer is dependent on a number of variables and will be very individual to your horse.
Your horse has natural protection against the elements. Native breeds in particular have evolved to cope very well with their home climate, developing a thicker coat for winter and shedding to a finer coat as the temperatures warm up, meaning they may not require any rugging at all. However, domestic horses are now not necessarily in their native climes, may have been clipped, or have become accustomed to being rugged or stabled and so some will need extra protection from the elements in both warmer and colder weather.
Spring and summer weather in the UK can still see temperatures dropping at night and we are not adverse to summer wind and rain! Therefore it’s a good idea to keep your eye on the weather and be prepared to offer extra protection as required, especially if your horse is used to being stabled through the winter or is a more vulnerable breed, such as a thoroughbred. For example a blanket on chilly nights or a no fill turnout rug for stormy weather. Remember though, should the temperature warm up, it’s important to remove excess horse rugs or blankets to prevent sweating. It is important in warmer weather that cooling air can pass over the horse’s body to help them cool down, and a horse rug can hinder this process.
As touched upon earlier, horses that have been clipped may require extra protection. Clipping is beneficial in that it helps working horses to not overheat and means any sweat will dry out more quickly – in terms of stable management this means horses can be rugged and settled more quickly. A horse that has not been clipped will take longer to cool down after work, which means rugging has to wait until they are cool to prevent them getting a chill. Show horses are also often clipped in summer to prevent overheating during competition. The down side of clipping is obviously that you will need to keep a close eye on your horse’s needs in terms of protection from the cold, so even in spring and summer they may require a rug on colder nights. Therefore it’s advisable to only clip as much as is needed for your horse’s workload.
One other horse rug your horse might need in the summer is a fly rug. Some horses can happily live alongside flies, just occasionally flicking them off. Others find them extremely irritating, and for them a fly rug will help provide protection. These can be from neck to tail and under the belly if required to provide maximum protection. It’s a good idea to invest as much as you can afford to get a breathable rug so as to avoid overheating and sweating.
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