Why not baby your baby??

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I have been looking online at how people winter their weanling horses and most people seem to be of the opinion that regardless of whether they are in or out or with natural or man-made shelters, they should always be without a rug.

The explanation for this is that they won't grow as much of a winter coat with a rug on. Fair comment, I say, BUT, if you want to put a rug on them, why does it matter that they haven't grown "enough" of a coat? What is enough? If enough keeps them warm but because you would rather they wore a rain sheet then it won't neccessarily keep them dry right down to their skin, then what they have grown, plus a rain sheet is surely "enough"?

If I feel better snuggled up at home in front of the fire, listening to the wind and rain howl outside, knowing that my boy is wearing a lightweight turnout to keep the rain off his skin, then where is the harm?

Why not baby your baby if you want to? I'm just interested in people's opinions really :)
 

NellRosk

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I think it's because if you do 'baby' them too much then this impacts them when they're older. If you start rugging up a weanling then it will never get the chance to grow a proper coat, will it? Also foals are so accident prone that if I ever got one, I'd rather provide good forage and shelter than putting a rug on it, in case it's rug broke/ got stuck in it's leg/ got stuck on a fence etc.
 

Tiddlypom

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Because it's not a baby, it's a horse.
This.

Also foals are so accident prone that if I ever got one, I'd rather provide good forage and shelter than putting a rug on it, in case it's rug broke/ got stuck in it's leg/ got stuck on a fence etc.
And this.

I usually introduce rugs when they are 3yo.
 

Janovich

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I think it's because if you do 'baby' them too much then this impacts them when they're older. If you start rugging up a weanling then it will never get the chance to grow a proper coat, will it? Also foals are so accident prone that if I ever got one, I'd rather provide good forage and shelter than putting a rug on it, in case it's rug broke/ got stuck in it's leg/ got stuck on a fence etc.
This,... ^^ and at a young age, they learn to 'self regulate' their own body temperature and grow (and shed) their own coat, come rain or shine throughout the year and I definitely think that if they are, sorry..., but mollycoddled at this age, it does affect them as they become older and you could/can end up with something that just can't cope with the elements that this country throws at us through the seasons..

And Yes,... because they are a horse!!
 

immybrookstud

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all our foals are rugged and stabled at night for they first winter. as yearling though they winter out without rugs, natural shetler and ad lib hay
 

maggiesmum

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My full TB stayed on mum till she was a year old (which may have made a difference) but they were both (lightly) rugged throughout the worst of winter as they were out 24/7 with ad-lib hay. She's now 6 and grows a coat like a yak in winter so i'm not sure being rugged as a foal has altered her ability to grow a coat, she's pretty much always lived out and has never needed heavy rugs, its usually more about keeping her dry when we have endless rain.
If they'd have had access to shelter or a stable then i'd perhaps not have bothered with rugs though.
 

TheMule

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My foal is so fluffy, she has far more coat than any of my older horses. Her dam has a lw on as she is a little light of condition but she needs nothing!
She's a warmblood foal
 

Burmilla

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So what should my YM have done when she found 6 month old, well covered, well fed colt (exmoor x tb) shivering with wet and cold and trying to hide under his dam? Plenty of natural shelter, which they were next to, plenty of grass. Howling wind and torrential rain. Mare fine. YM brought both in, rubbed foal dry with rough towels, rugged him and gave them ad lib hay.
Since then, given the continuing squally, wet n windy weater, he's had a light O/D rug on when T/O and has been fine. Mare continues unrugged. They are in one of the home paddocks, so are under regular supervision during daylight hours, and come in at night.
I prefer not to rug horses/ponies if consistent with their welfare. I think YM acted correctly in this case. What do you think?
 

Coblover63

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I've had a few yearling cobs over recent years and always left them naked to grow a good winter coat. Also, I know that youngsters can't help getting into pickles and worried that they'd get caught on something with a rug on, panic and injure themselves. Then a friend's comment made me review my decision. She said "Oh I rug my babies over winter so that the food I give them goes towards growing rather than keeping them warm" I hadn't thought about it like that and I'm now changing my practises a little..... especially as I have now moved to a different yard with "safer" paddocks.....
 

DD265

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I think like anything else to do with horses, you have to remember that they are individuals and what works for one might not work for another.

I have a friend who breeds Connemaras and sometimes she'll rug the youngsters and sometimes she won't. One in particular was an extremely small foal (to the point they worried they might lose her) so she tended to be rugged more than the larger foal to help keep her weight up. Equally one of the mares gets particularly fat and because they aren't worked, it is very hard to get the weight off so she's usually left to shiver all winter!
 

frostyfingers

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You have to treat each one individually according to their needs. My TB has hardly any coat, and is hunter clipped and barely needs more than a medium weight rug on most of the time. He travels with a very light rug (although we've moved to a lorry now which is warmer than the trailer so may not need anything) and comes back from hunting with only an old fashioned "string vest" - the Thermatex is too warm for him. He's a "hot" horse, and I have to be very carefully not to over rug him - when we had a cold snap a couple of winters ago and it was -4 with snow on the ground I put a Weatherbeeta Orican heavyweight on him and he was too hot!
 
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This,... ^^ and at a young age, they learn to 'self regulate' their own body temperature and grow (and shed) their own coat, come rain or shine throughout the year and I definitely think that if they are, sorry..., but mollycoddled at this age, it does affect them as they become older and you could/can end up with something that just can't cope with the elements that this country throws at us through the seasons..

And Yes,... because they are a horse!!
That is interesting that you say that if they don't grow their own coat the first year, then essentially they will never learn to. Is it as cut and dry as that? Is there any proven evidence for this, or is it just hearsay?

I'm not squabbling, and appreciate you taking the time to respond, I'm just interested.
 

Spring Feather

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That is interesting that you say that if they don't grow their own coat the first year, then essentially they will never learn to. Is it as cut and dry as that? Is there any proven evidence for this, or is it just hearsay?

I'm not squabbling, and appreciate you taking the time to respond, I'm just interested.
A load of nonsense I'm afraid. None of my horses have any trouble at all growing incredibly thick winter coats every year and many have been born on my farm and lived here all of their lives. All of my horses are rugged every year since weanlings (some of the newborns are rugged if the weather does not cooperate when they are born in the spring).
 

Sukistokes2

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I did not rug my young horse because he did not need it. I bought one just in case but only used it once when he got poorly. He was happier without.
I only rug lightly now when it is very wet and he will be rugged when he is clipped.

If they don't need it, I can not see why people would bother with rugs. When older it is useful to help them get used to being handled and to have things on them and flapping around but I would still keep it to a minimum
 

Janovich

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That is interesting that you say that if they don't grow their own coat the first year, then essentially they will never learn to. Is it as cut and dry as that? Is there any proven evidence for this, or is it just hearsay?

I'm not squabbling, and appreciate you taking the time to respond, I'm just interested.
Nope...no intention of squabbling back either!,..it's good to talk/discuss things through OP :).

Evidence/Hearsay...??,,mmmm, I guess the above is my experience of youngsters over the years and seeing other youngsters around me being rugged up unneccessarily, when in all honesty, they've really not needed to be. Only to go on in their growing years to become a little wimpy when the weather's changed, having become accustomed to a human giving them a rug to deal with the weather patterns! Just my experience you understand.


I suppose I should say 'each to their own' and dependent upon type, breed etc,..and to treat each as 'an individual'!
 

risky business

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A load of nonsense I'm afraid. None of my horses have any trouble at all growing incredibly thick winter coats every year and many have been born on my farm and lived here all of their lives. All of my horses are rugged every year since weanlings (some of the newborns are rugged if the weather does not cooperate when they are born in the spring).
I don't agree it's true either.

My Welsh mare was rugged up to her eyeballs her whole life sometimes wearing up to 3 rugs at a time.. :( when I got her she never grew much coat, I slowly over the years reduced her rugs and there weights untill she started growing a decent coat. I then never rugged her.
 

Annagain

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I've not had youngsters, but none of my horses have ever been rugged unless they are clipped or old and feeling the cold (or it's my grey hippo x ID and it's muddy :D) and I would apply this to youngsters too if I had them. Clipping (and therefore rugging) is to make a horse more comfortable in ridden work and to ensure he doesn't get cold from being sweaty after work so if they're not being ridden, the need for one and therefore the other is totally negated. Why go to all that extra expense of buying new rugs for growing youngsters who will only fit in them for a few months at most, especially when they are built to live outside and 'brave' the elements. A young, healthy horse is more than capable of regulating his body temperature.
 

Ibblebibble

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If I feel better snuggled up at home in front of the fire, listening to the wind and rain howl outside, knowing that my boy is wearing a lightweight turnout to keep the rain off his skin, then where is the harm?

Why not baby your baby if you want to? I'm just interested in people's opinions really :)
a lightweight rug will flatten the hair and stop it from being a natural insulator, an unrugged horse fluffs up it's coat to trap the warm air from it's body next to it's skin, a lightweight rug offers no warmth itself so in cold wet weather, rain sheets and lightweights are more 'harm' than good.
 

Wagtail

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Rugging makes absolutely no difference to coat thickness or length. Why do people continue to believe that it does? Nor will rugging a horse delay you having to clip them. All it does is flatten the coat and give the impression that it is therefore thinner. Horses grow the coat they are genetically programmed to grow no matter how much or little you rug them. The coat grows and sheds according to daylight hours, not temperature or rugging.

I rug according to the individual needs of the horse. I have a 3 year old that was rugged from a weanling and a two year old that was also rugged from a weanling. Both are WBs. My 3 year old has a far thicker coat than the 2 year old who takes after his dam and has a very fine coat. Therefore he is out in a medium weight and the 3 year old is out in a thinner rug ATM (out 24/7).
 

eggs

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As a rule I don't rug my youngsters but then they access to a large barn direct from their field which they are more likely to use when it is hot and buggy rather than when it is cold.

I worry that they will get the rug caught up on something so unkess I have to rug for a medical reason I choose not to rug. I have never noticed that by rugging they haven't 'learned' how to grow a decent winter coat either.
 

Spring Feather

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I don't agree it's true either.

My Welsh mare was rugged up to her eyeballs her whole life sometimes wearing up to 3 rugs at a time.. :( when I got her she never grew much coat, I slowly over the years reduced her rugs and there weights untill she started growing a decent coat. I then never rugged her.
Yes I've also had to molly-coddle some horses I've bought and shipped up during winter from the hot States down south. Only for the first winter though as they've been used to living in a much warmer climate and indoors whereas here it's freezing in winter and they live out. The winters after the first one they grow exactly the same uber-thick coats just like the ones who have always lived here. I spend a fortune on feed each winter but I'd spend a whole lot more if I was not rugging everything here. Rugging in the cold weather works for me, it doesn't for others; each to their own.
 

_GG_

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I'm actually not a massive fan of no fill and some lightweight turnout rugs. They can stop the coat being able to work properly so whilst you may have a dry horse, you may not have a warm one, whereas, with nothing on, they would be both dry and warm. A coat that is left to grow will be waterproof and weatherproof. I'm not an anti-rugger at all, I just think if doing it, it needs more thought than anthropomorphising horses and thinking we know what's best.

I have never seen evidence that not being allowed to grow a full coat as a yearling stops the ability to grow a full coat later in life, but I do worry about foals and yearlings in rugs as have seen so many accidents.

Each to their own....provided it's what's best for the horse, not what makes the owner feel cozy.
 

Illusion100

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If they need it I rug. I rugged my wb/tb youngster as a weanling and he still grows a ridiculously hairy winter coat. And as another poster said I preferred the stud mix to be used for growing not keeping warm.

I do believe horses should have a degree of acclimatisation to weather (I don't want to event a princess on a wet windy day!) but I go by the rule of they can either be wet or they can be cold, but not both.

When winter arrived the other day my lad was wet, shivering and very distressed, so on went a rug and he was much happier for it. He was one of the last horses to be rugged on the yard (other horses have been rugged for a month and some native ponies now even have 2 rugs on!) he's fluffy and should be waterproof but he was cold, wet and miserable.
 
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