Winter Horse Care – Clipping and Rugging!
Winter Horse Care – Clipping and Rugging!
Brrr … it’s cold outside!
Just like us humans, our four-legged friends need special care to help them stay warm, well, and happy, as the temperatures drop!
Australia is blessed with temperate weather conditions and as a general rule, horses are better equipped to cope with cold weather, than the Aussie summers with annoying flies, hot wind, and searing, relentless heat.
Even though the Australian winter is milder than harsh European extremes, horses that do not have the benefit of a caring owner will still do it ‘hard,' particularly in the southern states, where temperatures frequently drop to zero and below. While the northern regions of Australia deliver “boringly beautiful” winter days with temperatures often reaching the mid 20’s (degrees Celsius), the night-time gauge frequently shows freezing, and these extreme variations can compromise the horses’ natural defenses!
Keeping horses comfortable and free of winter ailments is an achievable goal, particularly when you incorporate some preventative strategies in your daily management routine, and adopt the Girl Guides’ motto … “BE PREPARED”!
Neglected horses are compromised horses! Careful planning makes for good equine management, which flows on to good financial management! Ailments that need veterinary intervention will impact your horse care budget, and the vet will end up with the money you had saved for that new saddle or competition outfit!
Reduced Daylight – This is the trigger for horses to “bunker down” and prepare for the chilly months. Nature does her job by providing equines with a downy undercoat, and a waterproof top layer which keeps them warm and dry in their natural environment.
Reduced daylight means that you need to start earlier and be sure to avoid getting stuck out in the dark. Be sure to carry a torch and keep spare batteries on hand.
Adjust your outdoor activities to accommodate reduced daylight and plan ahead for a downpour or cold snap that could compromise the comfort of your horse. Remember that wind direction and strength alters the chill factor, and a burst of sunshine will impact riding conditions and suitability of the choices that you have made for weather protection for your horse.
Clipping – If you are planning to continue your horse’s training or ride for pleasure through winter, you will be challenged by the task of managing the full, thick winter coat that nature has provided to keep your horse warm. These “winter woollies” can be a hindrance for horses in work as they easily overheat, then tire quickly. At the completion of each work session, the rider is stuck with the job of drying off the horse before re-rugging and returning to the stable or paddock. Clipping is the answer, but special attention to rug choices is essential, as you have taken over nature’s responsibility for keeping the horse warm, dry, comfortable and healthy.
You CAN clip your horse yourself, but a neat “professional” job is a case of “practice makes perfect!” Many horse owners choose to use the services of a professional horse clipper, but they are in high demand, and you will need to book a time well ahead of the date that you need the job to be done. Most horses will need to be clipped twice over winter, but this varies according to the time of the first clip, the individual rate of coat re-growth and the rider’s training and competition schedule.
Mustad Saddleworld stocks a comprehensive range of clippers for whole body clips or more compact and quiet models which are ideal for specific areas or presentation touch ups. Here is a link to clipping options and designs – you can make a fun statement as well as keeping your horse comfortable and ready for work. Be sure to that you know how to care for clippers, to keep them in good order, to avoid wear and damage. Good luck and happy winter riding. GO TO: https://www.google.com.au/search?q=equine+clipping+patterns&rlz=1C1ASUT_enAU
Rugging - Skin Care. Skin is the biggest organ of the body … and healthy skin with a glowing coat indicates a healthy horse. It is always advisable to use a cotton/poly-cotton rug next to the skin so that the horse can be kept as clean as possible, but it is important to check the horse’s coat for signs of overheating. These indicators will identify excessive sweating that has left the coat damp and sticky or dry and matted. The scurf and dander that is trapped in rugs potentially lead to the onset of troublesome dermatological conditions and these can add another dimension to winter care. In extreme instances, a vet may need to prescribe S4 drugs to clear up and control the skin irritations and infections.
Rugging – Safety. Correct rugging choices will deliver optimum benefits of protecting your horses from the elements. It is essential to regularly check the condition of rugs and neck rug/hood fittings to be sure they are working correctly and safe. It is important to establish that your horse’s winter rugs are waterproof because if they leak or allow seepage, the horse will be worse off than if left un-rugged. If possible, have a backup set of “winter woollies” so that you have a complete change, to allow wet rugs to dry out and air.
Rugging - Layering. Just like your wardrobe, use layering and the clever choice of fabrics and warmth factors, to ensure that seasonal changes do not compromise comfort. The changes of seasons can deliver icy winds then brilliant sunshine, which means that horses are exposed to the radiant heat captured under winter weight synthetics.
Check rugs for defects and wear. If necessary, re-waterproof, repair, or replace rugs which are in disrepair or unsafe. Do not wait until your horse is without a rug in a case of rug failure. Ensure that your equine laundry is up to date, as you may need to change the cotton rug at the time that drying conditions are difficult. Some Laundromats will allow horse rug washing and specialist equine laundry services exist in some areas; these are options worthy of investigation!
Mustad Saddleworld has a rug for every season and situation ranging from summer weights through to maximum warmth factors, and all are available in store or on-line. Our rugs are performance tested to give a “fit for purpose” assurance, which is aligned to the price and manufacturer’s warranty statement. The seasonal suitability of rugs is determined by the use of traditional natural fibres for mid season comfort or modern high-tech fabrics, which are made to provide different warmth ratings for specific times of the year. Layering gives a flexible option for adding extra warmth when needed.
Mustad Saddleworld carries a number of exclusive lines, which are offered at “second-to-none” value. The NEW Flinders Check Combo represents an outstanding buying decision, as this attractive winter combo delivers a level of quality and finish which is comparable with the respected exclusive brands, most of which are priced up to 200% of this fantastic winter option! Mustad Saddleworld’s buyers have focussed on practical and robust designs and a cut that ensures perfect fit and freedom of movement. Our rugs are stitched with the best quality threads that will not break or rot. The heavy duty, sturdy fittings are rustproof and will not break.
We take pride in knowing that your horse is warm, dry, safe and secure during the coldest of winter nights. You will also find rug spares and a range of waterproofing products for rug refurbishing and re-sealing. Mustad Saddleworld keeps your horse safe and warm … and you will enjoy peace of mind and big savings!