This is the first in a series of Winter Care Blogs from our wonderful equine vets, Cinder Hill. They will be releasing a series of blogs about seasonal care in the coming months.
As the autumnal; weather continues and we reach for our winter coats the temptation is to dig out a similarly warm looking rug for our equine friends. We should, however, however pause to consider the different ways in which horses deal with temperature changes. Unclipped horses have a good natural coat and they are considerably bigger than us allowing them to retain more heat They are also able to let their extremities cool considerably whilst maintaining a comfortable core temperature, because of this they have a much wider ‘thermoneutral zone’ between about 0C and 25C at which they can easily control their body temperature.
There are of course many factors that will affect a horses susceptibility to the cold:
Age- old and young horses will be more susceptible to the cold
Diet- High fibre diets produce more internal heat during fermentation in the hind gut than cereal or oil based feeds.
Coat-Clearly a thick coated Shetland will need less extra rugging than a fine coated or clipped thoroughbred.
Shelter-Horses able to escape the wind and rain but still move around will require less rugging.
And, of course, some individuals just feel the cold more than others.
Overrugging though can have adverse effects. Apart from just feeling uncomfortable, continued sweating can result in skin infections. Please remember that all rugs should removed regularly to check for rug rubs- particularly if an ‘underug’ is used. These can cause horrendous sores before your horse shows any outward sign of discomfort.
The following chart gives an idea of temperature ranges at which you can consider rugging.
So remember, don’t necessarily reach for a rug because you feel cold. Feeling a horses limbs, ears or face is a poor indicator of how cold they are, feeling under the rug behind the withers will give a better idea if they are too cool or too sweaty! Of course every horse is different, which is why if you visit Raystede during the winter months you will see some horses rugged up snugly and others equally comfortable with nothing on at all!
Want to help our equines this Winter? There are lots of ways to do it!
Give them a present- Equine Amazon Wish List
Give them a home-Loan an Equine
Become a Sponsor-Sponsor Purdie
Take on the Winter Ride Out Challenge-Winter Ride Out with Cinder Hill Equine Vets