Ah, we’re knocking on the door of October! If you’ve not already done your first clip this year I’m sure you’re seriously thinking about getting it done sooner rather than later. September has been a scorcher and with an increasingly fluffy Saf still in full work I almost found myself reaching for the clippers. Before I committed though, I nipped out for a hack last week, in what turned out to be 25C. On returning I noticed that Saf was only slightly sweaty under her girth, and considering how warm it was, we’d done 3.5 miles and that we’d included our usual incline canter/gallop, I was pleasantly surprised.
Short term gain, long term pain?
Thinking back to last winter, I tried my first rugless test with Misty and Saffron which was a huge success. At that time I had done my usual chaser type clip on Saf and remember feeling guilty that I had deprived her of her winter protection. It also struck me as ugly (and I admit I’m not the best clipper in the world!) but to see Saf’s beautiful, shiny winter coat interrupted by that clip irritated me more than it should have. The short term benefit of clipping her in circa September to counteract the usual September warmth vs winter coat growth, seemed pointless when there was a long winter ahead. In fact, it’s far more beneficial for Saf to clip her in late winter / early spring and there’s no guilt involved in that instance.
There are exceptions to my self-imposed rules. Last winter, Claire and I weaned ourselves and Saf and Mist down to no fill sheets only, and only used in certain circumstances. Any rugs with any sort of filling were put away. I felt a bare minimum rug was necessary due to our field having no shelter, but we listen to the horses and if they are happy in the rain, the rugs stay off. I will pop the sheet on Saf if it’s wet and I have a lesson first thing, there’s not a lot I can do with wet mud on the saddle area!
In case you’re wondering, Rosie Shetland and Raven aren’t mentioned as rugs are not on the radar for them. Rosie goes without saying, and Raven in her present state would just be unhappy if we tried. Penny is the only exception, due to being in her mid-thirties she is utterly mollycoddled but she does have her rug off as much as the weather allows and always has the lightest weight rug possible.
I won’t attempt to explain the thermoregulation system in the horse, but the lovely people Al Holistic Horse & Hoof Care have this very informative article: Thermoregulation in horses in a cold time of year
Anyone else turning their back on rugging and clipping their working horses this winter?