If you are debating whether your horse requires a rug or not, follow this checklist to decide what is right for him:
1. How often you intend to ride - if only once a week and your horse isn’t clipped there is no real reason to rug him up unless he’s a poor doer. Instead you will have to get used to grooming the mud off on a Saturday morning.
2. Your horse’s lifestyle - is he out all the time or stabled? Horses and ponies wintered out may need extra protection from the driving rain and therefore may need rugging. Unclipped stabled horses may not require rugging.
3. Clipping and the type of clip will also influence your decision on rugging. Native ponies with a small bib clip may not need extra protection and warmth although a thoroughbred who is fully clipped will.
4. Horse type and breed may also influence your decision to rug. Thinner-skinned horses with lighter coats such as thoroughbreds usually feeling the cold more than a Welsh Mountain Pony or Irish Cob.
5. The weather - horses and ponies cope very well in the cold but wet and windy conditions are more challenging so consider the weather on a daily basis and remember there’s no need to put on the heavyweight if it is 12°C and sunny!
6. Along with the decision on whether to rug or not is what type and thickness of rug to use. If you’re trying to keep your horse clean over the winter, opt for a lightweight rug. For poor doers that really feel the cold go for thicker rugs and remember what your Mum told you about layers!