November 4, 2020 – Ask Monty Newsletter

Question: What about horse blankets?

What is your opinion on horse rugs? I’ve read that they mess up the horse’s own heating system, but I can’t just go off one person’s opinion. I don’t think they are really needed, because horses in the wild don’t have rugs, and they survive, at least they don’t die from the cold often. Though at the same time, if you had a show horse that had only ever had a rug, then swapping it to being without one wouldn’t be great for it. But for horses and ponies that rarely have rugs on it wouldn’t be a problem to not use rugs ever again. I’m of the opinion that rugs are not needed, and are possibly not good for our horses. But, I’m eager to learn, and not only learn, but learn the truth.

Many thanks,
Ruth McClure

Monty’s Answer:

Dear Ruth,

You’re right! Rugs (blankets) are not needed. I am a lifelong student of the American Mustang and they are some of the healthiest horses on the earth. Their feet are typically far superior to the domestic horse. While they may have a rough coat at times, their ability to withstand variations of temperatures is extremely high.

It is nice to have a beautiful coat on a show horse and many owners believe that horses are more comfortable in the winter when rugs are used. I don’t have a big problem with that philosophy but when it comes down to the nature of equus, blankets are seldom, if ever, necessary — unless the horse has been clipped, of course.


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