There are two key reasons for using pony turnout rugs when putting horses into the field. The first is to keep them clean and dry, and the second is to keep them warm.
It is wise to use different types of horse rugs for when they are outdoors and when they are in the stable. In the field, horses are more likely to be exposed to dirt, moisture, and insects. Although some turnout rugs could also be used for the stable, stable rugs tend not to be robust or waterproof enough to provide adequate protection from the weather.
Horse turnout rugs help to keep horses clean and dry when they are outside. Turnout rugs are usually waterproof and will keep horses as dry as possible in rainy weather. Ponies like to gallop and roll around when turned out, and rugs will help to keep them clean of mud, dirt, dust and grass stains. Mucky ponies can often become uncomfortable and itchy, and turnout rugs help them to not only look presentable but to avoid discomfort too.
This is particularly helpful in autumn and winter months when the field might be wet or muddy. However, it’s also handy in summer when the ground is dry and dust coats them, staining and dulling their fur. Sun bleach is another risk that rugs can protect against in the height of summer. Plus, rugs can help to keep flies and insects at bay, which is useful as they can cause irritation to horses.
If you’ll be taking your ponies to horse shows, it is particularly important to keep them as clean and presentable as possible. Bathing horses is a time-consuming process so the cleaner you can keep them in the field, the less work you’ll have on your hands on the day of the show.
In cold weather, outdoor horse rugs can help to keep ponies warm. They’re available in a range of different materials and thicknesses, with heavier rugs designed for very cold temperatures. However, horses don’t tend to feel the cold anywhere near as much as we do, so there’s no need to put a very thick rug on a horse as soon as we feel chilly.
When temperatures drop below 0°C horses begin to feel the cold, but they don’t really need heavy rugging until it gets colder than -5°C. They’re very good at regulating their own temperature because their fur coat helps them to retain heat and their metabolism increases to keep them warm. In fact, this uptick in their metabolic rate in very cold weather plays an important role in their ability to maintain a healthy weight. Unnecessarily heavy rugging could actually lead to weight gain if it occurs regularly.
If horses are clipped and living outside permanently, they will likely require heavy rugging more frequently. You can check their temperature by placing your hand behind the horse’s withers underneath their rug. If it feels cold, it might be time to switch to a heavier rug, add an additional rug, or put a fleece underneath the rug. However, if the withers feel damp, the horse is probably too warm and the rug ought to be removed.
Pony turnout rugs usually have a synthetic outer layer that is waterproof and durable. Sometimes this outer part is made from “ripstop” material, which is resistant to snagging and tearing. This is particularly helpful for horses that have a tendency to rub. The strength of this outer material is determined by its denier. The higher the denier, the stronger the material and the less prone it is to tearing.
Despite being waterproof, turnout rugs also need to be breathable to ensure the horse doesn’t get too hot or damp. When air can pass through the rug, the horse’s perspiration can evaporate. If a horse remains damp for too long it can become cold, despite the warmth that the turnout rug might provide. In fact, if a turnout rug is too heavy and warm, it could cause the horse to perspire and actually make it too cold.
Turnout rugs often have a polyester filling that provides warmth. The thickness of the filling is determined by weight in grams and, the higher the weight, the warmer the rug. Lightweight cold weather rugs tend to have no more than 150g of filling. Medium weight rugs have between 150g and 300g. Heavyweight rugs are anything above 300g. Lightweight summer rugs often do not have any filling at all.
Turnout rugs should be long enough that they completely cover the belly when the horse is viewed from the side. This will ensure maximum protection against the weather. You should also make sure that the rug overlaps properly at the front. As for how far up the neck they come, it varies from rug to rug.
Many pony turnout rugs do not cover the neck. Some have neck coverings that come either halfway up the neck or all the way up to the back of the head. Most have zips or fastenings where a detachable neck cover can be added whenever it is needed. Full neck covers are usually only necessary when the weather is particularly bad and added protection against the rain is needed.
When horse turnout rugs are fastened too tight to a pony, they can inhibit the horse’s movement or chafe the horse around the chest and neck areas. It’s important to get a good fit by measuring the horse and choosing an appropriate size. If a horse is in between sizes, opt for the larger size. The rugs tend to have adjustable straps and fastenings to ensure the fit is comfortable. Some of them have extra pleats or gussets manufactured into the shoulders to give the horse more freedom of movement when they gallop and roll.
Shop now for horse turnout rugs that meet all of the needs of your pony when they’re out in the field.
Yes, fleeces can be used under pony turnout rugs to add extra warmth in very cold weather, but medium or heavyweight outdoor horse rugs are often thick and warm enough without the need for extra fleeces.
Horse turnout rugs tend to be thicker and more durable than stable rugs to protect against harsh weather. Often they are waterproof while stable rugs are not. They are also often shaped differently to allow the horse to roll and gallop out in the field.