Rugging: Single layer vs. Multiple Layers

It feels like we're back in the depths of winter rather than being in the second month of spring. The whole country has been issued with a red weather warning due to the Beast from the East and Storm Emma. Bar the inconvenience and icy roads; I quite like it. Everything looks so pretty, the muck is hidden, and I've gotten some gorgeous photos of the horses in the snow.

All the horses are rugged up, with each one wearing different weights depending on their needs. Ozzy is hardy and doesn't appreciate heavy rugs  - he's been fully clipped and lived out all winter in a 200g rug. Any heavier and he gets sweaty and itchy.

One horse who is causing a dilemma is Setanta. I'm at a bit of a crossroad with him. I feel he needs another layer and I have the option of putting on one 400g rug or two 200g rugs. With humans it's much easier, we know multiple light layers are better than wearing one thick layer, and I often wonder if it is the same for horses and their rugs?

There are pros and cons to using both multiple, lighter layers and using one, thicker layer.

  • More layers mean more heat being trapped and less heat is lost. Layering works by trapping air between the layers. These air pockets act as insulators and stop heat from escaping to the surroundings. Therefore, multiple layers mean multiple insulating air pockets resulting in a warmer horse. 
  • However, horse rugs are far, far heavier than the light layers we are used to. Wearing multiple rugs puts excess pressure on a horse's withers and back. 
  • They take longer to get on and off and also their fit can be compromised. 
  • A horse's movement can be restricted.

Single Layer
  • Big, thick rugs are easier to monitor for rubs as well as being easier to put on and take off. This has to be more comfortable for the horse than wearing multiple layers? 
  • Wearing multiple layers may inhibit the breathability of a rug and negatively affect the horse's skin. 
  • Using single layers will mean buying more rugs of different weights, which can get expensive. Not to mention needing additional storage space (liners are much more compact!)
  • If a horse gets too hot or cold, it means changing a rug rather than just adding or removing a layer. 

I'm a bit torn as to what to do. Using one thicker layer is more convenient for me, and it is easier to adjust if he manages to move his rug while messing in the field. He also has high withers so I wonder about the pressure that two rugs would cause - while their filling may total 400g, the overall weight of two 200g rugs would be heavier than one 400g rug. However, liners might provide a way around this? Using a 200g rug with a 200g liner would grant me the benefits of layering without the worry of pressure points. Plus they're easy to manoeuvre and remove.

Hmmm...the dilemma continues.

1 comment:

  1. As the barn we are on now, only offers to put on a rug in the morning and putting off a rug in the evening, I have Baldur with a 400gr rug outside when it's the coldest, with a 200gr stable rug under, that he will also have inside when they take him in and take off the outer rug. This works great for us. In the less cold days, he has the 200gr rug over the stable rug. When it's warmer, the stable rug will come off, and he will have only the 200gr rug outside. :D