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Rugging Debate! (Or just a good old moan!)

Scottie in turnout boots

I am far from being one of those people who think horses should be all natural in unnatural environments. (No rugs, No shoes ect) The majority of us horsey people accept that many breeds are now so far from being the type of horse that used to live in the wild that they need a little bit of help (rugs, shoes, clipping) to improve their long term welfare as ridden, domesticated animals. However, there is still a huge disagreement over what is best for horses rugging wise.

Each horse has their own rugging needs

Recently a woman at my yard has made several comments along the lines of “Poor Scottie, he must be cold.”. I think this is ridiculous. Yes Scottie is a thoroughbred and clipped. And yes he is often naked at night or when turned out. However, I know my horse and he is very rarely cold. In fact he is normally very warm and good horse owners know its healthier for a horse to be a little chilly than to be too hot. As rude as I find her comments, I know she has no idea what she is talking about. She believes that because her horses are rugged and they are hardier types, that Scottie must need to be rugged too.

She hasn’t been the only one though. I have had several people look down their nose at me saying he is a TB, he needs a rug on. Most of these people have never even seen Scottie, just judging because he is a TB. It’s crazy! You just need to look at his big fat belly to see that he obviously isn’t cold!

Rugging scottie in his cooler

Scottie in his cooler

Don’t get me wrong, I love rugs and I love buying them for Scottie. (Probably a little too much!) And he has plenty of rugs and spares in case turnout rugs get wet. But I would always rather him be a little cold than too hot. Especially as he is a very good doer so not likely to drop weight. Research has shown it’s good to encourage horses to naturally lose weight over winter and rugging accordingly can help this. He even has turnout boots and mask to help keep him clean in really wet, muddy weather to make riding easier.

rugging scottie in his pjs
(Loves his Dress up time!)

I know some horses do drop weight quickly if they are cold or could possibly have other reasons for having rugs on when Scottie might not have them on. But what bothers me the most is people who just put rugs on because they look nice or they feel mean not putting one on. Or more often than not, the owner is cold! This is not how horses should be rugged. I wrote a bit of a guide to help people decide what rug their horse should wear.

You must have experienced this at some point! Even if it’s you rugging when others don’t think you should. Share your experiences!

Last Updated on 07/08/2018

3 thoughts on “Rugging Debate! (Or just a good old moan!)”

  1. Lots of people overrug. Owner is cold — two rugs on the horse.
    My Paso gets a raincoat if it’s really nasty out. That’s pretty much it. A no-fill turnout rug to keep the worst of the rain off, because there is little shelter in the field. And that’s in winter.
    Unless it’s bucketing it down with gale-force winds (which drive the rain under the fur), then he gets a lightweight rug with a neck.
    Any other time?
    Nekkid horse. (He’d like an umbrella tho. Hates getting his face wet.)
    I often hear the comment “…oh he feels so nice and toasty under there.” whereupon I tend to practically bite my tongue off. Horse toasty = too warm.
    Most horses would rather go without. They don’t mind a bit of chill, and with a rug they miss out on those essential grooming sessions. And a good roll in the mud. A good mudbath keeps the flies off and the itch down. Can’t do that with a rug on.
    My boy gets turned out in the barn in winter, so he can have a good roll on dry ground. People look at me like I’m crazy. (He’s grey.) But he loves a good roll, and it’s a nice reward for him after a ride. So what if he’s dirty. At least he’s content, and mud and dirt can be groomed off. I don’t care if I go out on a mudbeast, as long as he’s happy. (I generally scrub the saddle area only, in winter, to keep the oils on the fur.)
    I’d rather have a happy horse who is dirty, than a miserable clean one. 🙂

    1. I totally agree! Horses should be cool to the touch. I don’t think enough people understand the difference in mass:surface area between horses and humans. They need as much skin/coat exposed to help with thermoregulation.

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