To rug or not to rug? That is the question for horse owners


When they feel the cold themselves, so many horse owners rush to blanket their animals. But is this the right thing to do? 

If you’re not sure, a new tool developed by Canada’s Equine Guelph and blanket manufacturer, Bucas of Ireland, is here to help.

The new interactive online ThermoRegulator Healthcare Tool explores thermoregulation in all seasons to help horse owners avoid over-heating and dehydration along with a variety of sicknesses caused as a result of chilling and other preventable health concerns.

Nature has provided horses with a coat for all seasons, as every horse owner can attest during the hairy days of shedding season. Long hairs rise up, creating an insulating layer in the cold months. Sleek shorter hairs part in the hot season to help the horse stay cool, but there is much more to thermoregulation than the length of hair coat.

“There are health factors to consider when deciding whether to blanket or not, including a horse’s age, health and body condition score,” says Equine Guelph director Gayle Ecker.

Exercise will also be a consideration if the equine is asked to perform higher level athletics in a cold climate. Once a horse is clipped, you are committed to making blanketing choices.

The ThermoRegulator Tool will lead horse owners through an interactive body condition score module. A horse classified as thin will have a hard time staying warm in winter. Turnout environment will also play a role in deciding if you should blanket. Take into consideration how windy or cold the forecast is and if there is access to shelter or windbreaks.

Frequently asked questions are addressed such as: how to measure for a blanket, choosing the right type of blanket, routine maintenance, preventing rub marks and fitting the challenging horse with prominent withers or large shoulders.

Bucas managing director Ulf Casselbrant said the company was pleased to partner with Equine Guelph in the development of the tool, saying it was “an excellent resource for the horse owner in understanding the principles of thermoregulation in horses and helpful in the proper use of blanket protection for their horse.”

Check out the introductory video below, and then go on to the ThermoRegulator Healthcare Tool.

Related: Horse covers: The ultimate guide

One thought on “To rug or not to rug? That is the question for horse owners

  • September 19, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Excellent information, thank you.
    Wondering if there is information on whether you have to rug a horse every year once it has been rugged the first winter/cold spell.
    Also , how to properly fit a rug, as in correct length of skirts and fit of straps.
    Keep up the great spiels please 🙂


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