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Hoofbeats - The Blog 

Welcome to our blog page, HOOFBEATS, where we talk about the countryside with a main emphasis on training and caring for horses and ponies. If you would like to contribute ideas and information about your own experiences, we would be delighted to hear them. Please email to editor@horseandponyinfo.com or post to our Facebook Page, Horse and Pony Info. If you're into Twitter, you can contact us @horse_ponyinfo.

The opinions expressed here are from personal experience and we strongly advise you to contact your vet or your riding instructor if you are seriously worried about your horse.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

What's going on under your horse's rug?

MercuryValentineCard.jpgHappy St. Valentine's Day to everyone! We celebrated the lead up to the most romantic day of the year with a Valentine Card competition and the results were published today. You can see the prize winners here on our competition page. Congratulations to Stephanie Pavitt who won.

What's under your horse's rug?
Modern horse rugs fit so well and the same ones can often be used in stable and field. There is a temptation to forget to take the rugs off regularly and not look to see what's happening underneath them, especially if we have a lot of horses at grass or not being ridden. When we take off the rug, we can sometimes get an unpleasant surprise.

Skin infections and overheating under rugs
This happened to me two years ago when a horse which wasn't being ridden started scratching against the fence post. I got him in and took off the rug. To my horror, there was a bald patch of skin with an oozing infection. I called the vet who gave him antibiotics and recommended leaving him without a rug as he felt it had been caused by overheating under the rug. As we were coming into Spring, this didn't matter and he was a lot cooler without it. I also had to wash his skin with Betadine (or Hibiscrub would be similar), dry it well with clean lint or clean towel and apply Sudocreme (or any Zinc oxide type ointment). Last year I avoided this happening again by clipping the horse at the end of January. I have done the same in 2011 and, in fact, when I clipped him just recently there were masses of little itchy spots under the hair which neither the vet nor I noticed a week earlier.

Too fat or too thin under the rug
We have other problems lurking under a rug throughout the winter season. Some people remove a rug to find their horse has lost a lot of weight or, the reverse, has put on a lot of weight. In order to feed a horse efficiently, we need to check what weight he or she is carrying on a regular basis.

Shedding hair
Coming into Spring, horses and ponies which haven't been clipped will get more itchy and scratch more. Their winter coat is shedding and they feel uncomfortable. Many owners recommend taking off the rug on warm days and letting the horse have a good roll which will remove some of the shedding hair. It is still too early to do this in February but warmer days in March and April when temperatures get into the teens would be safe enough. You still need to put the rug on again at night until the horse is hardened off. (Has got used to being without the rug during the day for a period of about two weeks, depending on the weather). Another excellent and pleasurable way for horses to loose shedding hair is to be groomed on a regular basis. They usually love it at this time of year.

We have more info on how to cope with skin infections and rain rash here.

3:16 pm gmt 

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FURminator Equine - We recently bought one of these ourselves and have found it great. It effortlessly removed loose hair and the horses really seem to enjoy being groomed with it. We even tried it out on our dog! Obviously you need to take care not to use it on parts of the body where the bone is close to the surface, such as face and legs. (by Suzanne Lalor, Horse and Pony Info)

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Do you have ideas or a problem which would interest our readers? Please email to editor@horseandponyinfo.com .