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Helping Young Horses Adjust To Horse Rugs

Posted by Caribu Team on March 14, 2019

Wearing a horse rug will be a new and unfamiliar experience for your young horse. Your young horse may react badly to wearing a horse rug for the first time if you don't help him or her make the adjustment properly. Fortunately, there are techniques that you can use that will make the transition much smoother for both of you.

One of the small preliminary ways that you can help your horse get used to the feel of horse rugs is by taking the rug and gently rubbing your horse with it. In the process, your horse will experience a milder form of the tactile sensations associated with wearing a horse rug. Young horses usually don't inherently associate horse rugs with fear, and it's important to stop that sort of conditioning before it starts. Also, it's important to note that some horses that are not used to horse rugging may not be ready for hoods. Neck combo horse rugs may be less intimidating for inexperienced horses than hoods. Fly bonnets are a good alternative to hoods for horses that should have their heads covered but haven't yet adjusted to hoods.

Adjust to Horse Rugs
Adjust to Horse Rugs

One of the small preliminary ways that you can help your horse get used to the feel of horse rugs is by taking the rug and gently rubbing your horse with it. In the process, your horse will experience a milder form of the tactile sensations associated with wearing a horse rug. Young horses usually don't inherently associate horse rugs with fear, and it's important to stop that sort of conditioning before it starts. Also, it's important to note that some horses that are not used to horse rugging may not be ready for hoods. Neck combo horse rugs may be less intimidating for inexperienced horses than hoods. Fly bonnets are a good alternative to hoods for horses that should have their heads covered but haven't yet adjusted to hoods.

If you try rugging your young horse unsuccessfully several times, he or she may soon start associating the horse rugs with stress and fear because of conditioning. By that point, some young horses may start getting afraid in response to the sight of horse rugs. You can start carrying horse rugs with you without any intent to put them on your horse or touch your horse with them during some very early stages of this training period. That way, your horse may get used to the sight of horse rugs in advance.

When you feel your horse is truly ready for full-fledged horse rugging, it is best to have someone else there to help you and your horse. Your assistant can comfort your horse, and hold on to him or her if necessary. Assistants can also keep your horse occupied by talking to him or her while the introductory rugging is taking place. You and your assistant should do this in a stable or another contained area. You may want to use a slightly worn horse rug at this stage, since they tend to be easier to fold and they make less noise when you handle them. Both of you should also set aside two hours or more for the project, so your horse is able to spend time in the horse rug and you don't have to remove it too quickly.

When you are actually placing the rug on your horse for the first time, it's important to do it gradually. Putting the rug on your horse all at once may startle him or her. You can take the horse rug and roll it into a cylindrical shape, so the front section of the rug is on the outside. You can then slowly move the horse rug over your horse's withers. At that point, you can unfold the rug at the front and get it into place. Then, you can do the same thing with the back of the horse rug and begin fastening the leg straps. The important thing is not to put it all on at once, which may startle your horse.

You and your assistant should be monitoring your horse's behavior to see how he or she is reacting as you secure the horse rug. At this point, if your horse is calm, you can let him or her move around in the area so he or she can get used to the feel of a horse rug. After this initial session, you can gradually start taking a more relaxed attitude towards putting rugs on your horse.