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There are many reasons to rug a horse or pony in summer – and of course, many reasons not to.
There are many reasons to rug a horse or pony in summer - and of course, many reasons not to. It is important to note that I don’t advocate over-rugging! Whatever the weather, in an ideal world, I believe that we would not need to rug our horses. This ideal world includes suitable shelter, not just a hedge, that provides proper protection from the elements and is a safe haven for your horse. My ideal world scenario also includes suitable quantities of forage (whether that’s good quality grazing or ad lib hay, as this forage acts as an internal heating system to provide warmth via digestion); and turn out that encourages movement.
But, even in summer, some horses do need turn out rugs. For example, a sensitive, thin skinned Thoroughbred may feel the cold more than his colder-blooded native cousins, if rain is persistent. Health plays a big factor in whether to rug up or not in the warmer weather. In fact, it is probably the biggest factor, in our experience - an equine with reduced immunity, that is suffering from pain in any way, or that has lost weight and is in poor condition, will probably welcome a lightweight rug in wet weather. It isn’t necessarily about the fact it is raining - but also the combination of the available shelter, the ambient temperature, and how long the rain persists for, along with the horse or pony’s access to forage!
Some people will also choose to rug up in the summer months using a turnout rug with no filler, for their own convenience - e.g. to keep the horse or pony clean for riding. It certainly makes for an easier and quicker grooming experience!
Furthermore, a summer turnout rug can protect the horse or pony from the sun. The rays can actually bleach the coat and fade the colour, and other factors can also affect this procedure - such as salt from sweat, and dirt from mud, which both draw out natural moisture and oils from the coat.
Whatever your reasons for rugging up a horse or pony in summer, here are our top tips-