When the weather turns cold and wintery it is very easy for horse owners to want to keep their horses warm, dry and happy. When we walk outside and get a blast of icy cold air in our face our first reaction is to put on a coat and rug up to keep warm. We tend to want to do this with our horses as well. It’s very easy to compare our own winter comfort level to that of their horse and we tend to over rug them. Heat actually stresses a horse out more than cold conditions.
Depending on the weather conditions and what you use your horse for should determine if you rug him or not. If you are going to keep your horse in work through the winter months then it is best to rug him in a good quality waterproof turnout blanket even if he has access to shelter.
Some horses just naturally feel the cold and need to be rugged for their own comfort and look for them when it starts to turn cold. I have had a few like that who love their blankets and I have owned others who have made it a sport to see how quickly they can remove them!
After hard exercise even in the most chilliest of weather your horse is going to raise a sweat and get hot if his coat is allowed to get too thick. It’s very important that the horse be dried thoroughly after exercise and that the hair is brushed so that it stands up. This prevents the sweat from causing a chill, which can lead to illness. Would you like to be turned out into cold wintery conditions while still damp?
By brushing your horses hair up it provides insulation against the cold. Fluffy hair traps air and keeps the horse warm; hair plastered down flat or wet from rainy conditions lets body heat escape and that’s when horses get cold and miserable. A well exercised horse needs to be cooled out thoroughly then brushed to stand the hair up again before turning them back out.