Do Horses Need Rugs in Rain?

Mostly, horse hair forms a waterproof barrier for sudden showers and drizzle. Especially in the warm season, a horse’s coat is more than enough to survive a night outside. But do horses need rugs in rain during every other season? The answer is a resounding yes.

Horses vs Rain and Bad Weather

On balance, the horse is a resistant species. Even at low temperatures, the thick hairs of the mane keep the body warm. However, during winter, every equestrian should take some precautions to better care for their horse(s).

Based on the breed, age, and health of the animal, paying attention to the climate and bad weather is crucial. Also, by fulfilling the animal’s needs in the coldest periods, the quality of life improves.

For one thing, horses must have access to shelters to protect themselves from wind, rain, and snow. Then, horse owners can fall back on a plethora of tools for the ever-changing situation. Including several types of rugs and accessories.

At What Temperature Does Your Horse Start to Get Cold?

Of course, when it rains, the horse’s temperature can drop significantly. Sometimes, a rug is vital to the wellbeing of the animal. As with therapeutic horse rugs, made for horses going through muscle recovery.

Compared to humans, horses have a higher body temperature. In short, they are more resistant to cold. But their natural resistance varies according to their habits and general lifestyle. What is certain is that they consume much more calories to protect themselves from low temperatures.

Here are a few pointers to know when and how to intervene to protect them:

  • Between 50 F and 41 F (10 C and 5 C), it is a sustainable ambient temperature. Usually, horses feel cool and relaxed.
  • Between 40 F and 21 F (4 C and -6 C), horses start to get cold.
  • Between -20 F and 1 F (-7 C and -17 C), it is too cold for them.

These temperatures do not consider the degree of humidity. But, you should take it into account as it alters the perception of cold. Mostly, to prevent diseases that affect the respiratory system.

Should You Rug Your Horse?

Surely, you should rug the most delicate and elderly specimens of your horses. Both at night and during the day, the horse rug is recommended when temperatures are close to freezing. Even if it does not rain. To help, a wide range of rugs suitable for different weather conditions are available.

It is also useful to remember that you can find different rug models. Mainly, stable and turnout rugs.

Stable rugs are not waterproof. As such, they are not suitable for outdoor activities. Instead, they are like comfy blankets for stalled horses. Especially for those that have been shorn or for elderly or sick horses that need to stay warm.

Generally, turnout rugs are more durable and waterproof. They ensure good thermal insulation for the animal. Moreover, in case of rain, a turnout rug keep the horse warm and dry in delicate parts, such as the kidneys.

Responsible rugging tips for raining days

Here are sensible tips to rug your horse correctly every single time:

  1. Only put the blanket on a clean and dry horse coat. Also, grooming is essential to choose the right rug for the season.
  2. Use the most suitable rug for the current situation. For instance, a heavy, non-water repellent rug on a horse in the paddock will do more harm than good.
  3. Always take into consideration the weight of the rug. If a rug makes the horse sweat, it is not the right one.
  4. Remember to remove the rug when the rain stops. Then, proceed to groom the horse by hand to remove any dirt or leaves.
  5. Bring a second rug with you on longer trips. In case of heavy rain, find shelter. Next, change the rug with the dry one.


Do horses need rugs in rain? Yes. But some factors may lead you to consider the best option for the day. As a rule of thumb, your horse should never sweat while wearing a rug at rest. Things change when the horse is outside, running in the rain. In this case, previous or potential health problems should guide your next move. For a more accurate assessment, a thermometer may come in handy to measure the environmental and the horse’s temperature.