Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

Owners urged to think before rugging their horse
"There are many reason why we may not need to rug our horses, the most obvious one being weight gain" - Ruth Court, Blue Cross.
Keeping horses rugged risks further weight gain, Blue Cross warns. 

National animal charity Blue Cross is calling on horse owners to think carefully before rugging their horses this winter.

The charity says that even though hoses might look 'cute and snug' wrapped up in a rug, it might not be the kindest or healthiest course of action for them. 

Ruth Court, horse welfare manager at Blue Cross, said: “As winter approaches, it’s tempting to reach for the extra rugs, but does your horse actually need a rug at all?

“There has been a lot of research around rugging in recent years and there are many reasons why we may not need to rug our horses, the most obvious one being weight gain.” 

The national charity has put together the following list of points for owners to consider when deciding whether to rug their horses:

Self-protection: Horses are programmed to protect themselves in bad weather, turn their backs on wind and rain to protect their head, neck, eyes, ears and belly. 
Natural shelter: They may choose natural shelters such as hedges and trees and keep together to share body warmth. Or they may have access to a field shelter.
Natural insulation: Horses with frost on their backs may look cold but they are quite the opposite as very little body heat is escaping through the air which is why the frost hasn’t melted.
Compromised thermoregulation: The horse has a very efficient coat covered with tiny hairs. The hair erector muscles for each hair need ‘exercising’ to work efficiently and over rugging may compromise this natural mechanism.
Heat imbalance: Over rugging mean that the horse warms up under the rug but not in other exposed areas.
Over-heating: If the horse becomes too hot under the rug, he doesn’t have a natural ability to cool down and may begin to sweat and become uncomfortable.
Natural weight control: The use of rugs can affect the horse’s natural weight control system. Horses are designed to use fat reserves over winter to keep warm. By keeping horses over rugged and overfed during the winter we are increasing the risk of further weight gain in the spring, increasing the risk of laminitis.
Forage: munching and digesting forage for 24 hours a day will help generate heat to keep a horse warm naturally.
Individual needs: There are some exceptions to the rugging rule: lighter, elderly or unwell horses may benefit from the additional warmth of a rug. Clipped horses and stabled horses with restricted movement may also appreciate a rug.

Ruth added: “Horses have evolved to deal with the cold. As long as we meet their basic management needs by providing ad lib forage, water, equine companionship and access to shelter they should be comfortable and warm with the lightest of rainsheets or no rugs at all.

“Do remember to make any changes gradually though, to give them time to adapt their natural heating system and they must be checked at least once a day to be sure that they are happy in the field.”

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Born Free video highlights how humans are to blame for COVID-19

News Story 1
 Wildlife charity Born Free has released a video emphasising the importance of changing the ways in which humans treat wildlife in order to prevent pandemics from occurring in the future.

The video, narrated by founder patron Joanna Lumley OBE, says: "To deal with the very immediate threat of another global catastrophe, we have to focus on ending the destruction and conversion of natural habitats and the devastating impact of the wildlife trade.

"The vast majority of these viruses originated in wild animals before infecting us. Destroying and exploiting nature puts us in closer contact with wildlife than ever before."

Born Free has compiled an online resource with information on how to take action and improve protections for wildlife here.

To view the video, please click here.

Images (c) Jan Schmidt-Burbach. 

Click here for more...
News Shorts
RVC opens 2021 Summer Schools applications

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has opened applications for its 2021 Summer Schools, with students in Years 10, 11 and 12 invited to apply.

Taking place between July and August 2021, the event gives budding vets from all backgrounds first-hand insight into what it's like to study at the Campus.

Much of this year's content is likely to be delivered virtually, including online lectures and practical demonstrations, but the RVC hopes to welcome each of the participants to campus for at least one day to gain some hands-on experience.

For more information about the Schools and to apply, visit: rvc.uk.com/SummerSchools Applications close on the 2 March 2021.