Rugging the horse.

Keeping it simple…

Often when autumn hits you see horses with rugs on in the field.  This year in Ireland, it has been incredibly mild (we haven’t even had a hard frost yet) and some horses, rightly so are unrugged.  So please read on and be realistic and ask yourself do your horses really need to be rugged at this moment in time.


Variables to think about before rugging your horse or pony…

Not to rug…

  • If the horse/pony is obese, unclipped and lives out with shelter (even natural trees/shrubs) your animal should not require rugging unless conditions are getting below -3c.  Winter can be a good time to lose a few kg’s before spring and eliminate the possibility of obesity or killer laminitis.
  • Horses have a lower thermoneutral zone TNZ (horses 0 – 25 degrees vs human 20-35 degrees.) This means that horses don’t feel cold unless below 0 (some will argue its 5 degrees) and they feel warm once reaching 25degrees.
  • If your horses have shelter and adlib hay/grass this will provide heat through digestibly energy and will help keep your animal warm. Therefore, no need to rug.

To rug…

  • Elderly, sick or underweight horses will require rugging mainly to keep dry and act as a wind breaker. Although young stock can’t tolerate the cold as well as older/seasoned horses, it’s not always advisable to rug them for safety reasons.  I ensure young stock have the best sheltered field and plenty of forage & feed which will in term help there keep warm – fuelling their internal furnace.
  • Clipped horses and horses in work.  
  • Particular breeds. For example, thoroughbred horses could feel the cold at 0c but a native Connemara pony many not feel the cold until -4c.  Therefore, although both types may be in the field together the thoroughbred may require rugging before the pony or at least have a greater fill rug.

Our next blog will be all things clipping – our favourite pastime!!!!!!
For feedback, to keep informed or if you’ve ideas or questions please e-mail

Fiona O’Dwyer

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hi Fiona,

    I love your blog! Best of luck with the app!

  2. Best of luck with the new app!

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