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!