During movement, or even shivering, contraction of the large muscles of the body burns energy and releases heat
Over-rugging will affect your horse’s ability to regulate its body temperature and may cause significant distress if they get too hot. Extreme heat stress may result in dehydration, increased heart and respiratory rates, lethargy and even colic. There are long term implications too. When rugged, your horse will use less energy, and the excess will be converted to fat, predisposing them Equine Metabolic Syndrome and laminitis in the spring. Therefore, rather than rugging, providing appropriate shelter and ample forage are likely to be more effective ways of keeping your horse warm through the winter.
There are cases, of course, when rugging is appropriate- horses standing in, or those which are clipped will need a rug. However, numerous factors should be considered when choosing which type and weight, including the environment, type of shelter available and the weather. Remember that you are likely to be making this decision in the morning, when the temperature is probably several degrees cooler than it will be in the middle of the day.
For further advice on rugging in the winter, call our team on 01323 815120.