Just Because We Layer Up To Stay Warm, Doesn't Mean We Should Pile the Rugs on Our Horses!

It's that time of year when the weather is so changeable it becomes a trial to work out what to wear for the day. Luckily, we can layer up and luckily we have the ability to add or remove items of clothing as the temperature increases or decreases ‐ our horses do not have this luxury. So not only are we faced with a wardrobe dilemma for ourselves, we are faced with a wardrobe dilemma for our horses.

I know lots of horse owners that believe if they are cold, their horse will be too and conversely, if they are feeling warm, their horse must be too. Unfortunately this isn't always a good way to work out how to rug your horse. Not only do horses and humans have differing body temperatures (humans 36.5 to 37.5 °C, horses 37.5 to 38.6 °C ) our abilities to regulate our body temperature differs greatly.

Horses are very efficient at maintaining their body temperature when the ambient temperature is within a certain range and won't need to adjust their physiology to be comfortable. Rather amazingly, due to their ability to adjust their metabolism and behaviour, wild horses can survive in temperatures ranging from -40 oC to +58 oC[i]! Obviously wild horses remain unclipped and providing there are no sudden changes in temperature, easily acclimatise to colder temperatures.

As the modern domesticated ridden horse has a fairly unnatural lifestyle, this presents certain challenges when keeping your horse comfortable. Most ridden horses are clipped over the colder months, so having removed their insulating layer of hair we will most certainly need to rug, but which rugs for which temperatures? Below is a handy guide to your Autumn/Winter Horse Wardrobe and your Autumn/Winter wardrobe!

Outside Temperature (°C)

Clipped horse Wardrobe

Unclipped horse Wardrobe

Owner Temperature!

Owner Wardrobe Ideas From Equetech

-0 to -5

Heavy turnout with neck cover

Medium turnout


Rowant Long Winter Coat

Faux Fur Headband

Cable Knit Loop Scarf

Arctic Thermal Underbreeches

Denim Breeches Navy/Navy

Winter Tech Riding Socks

Riding Hat Thermal Liner

0 to 5

Medium turnout with standard or high neck

Light turnout

Very cold!

Chartridge Parker

Riding Hat Thermal Liner


Metallic Deluxe Knit Headband

Metallic Deluxe Knit Infinity Scarf

Thermal Stirrup Under Breeches

Winter Tech Riding Socks

5 to 10

Light turnout



Trilogy 3 in 1 Jacket

Bridles Infinity Scarf

Denim Breeches Navy/Tan

Cable Knit Headband

Snaffle Riding Socks

Winter Tech Riding Socks

10 to 15

Nothing or light turnout (no fill) if rainy and/or windy



Trilogy 3 in 1 Jacket

Kingsley Gilet

Denim Grip Breeches

Cable Knit Headband

Pheasants Infinity Scarf

Snaffle Riding Socks


[i] http://equinefreelance.com/free-articles/rugging/