The use of a neck cover is ideal for protecting the horse’s neck from cold and rain. For one thing, the main goal of a neck cover is to avoid heat loss from the throat, mane, and neck. Besides, most neck covers are part of a larger rug that blankets the whole body. So, in some cases, your horse can surely benefit from a neck rug or blanket. Simply put, make sure that the neck protection will ensure the overall horse’s well-being and health. Most importantly, avoid overheating and excessive sweat.
When To Use a Neck Cover?
Traditionally, along with a mask or hood, equestrians put a neck cover on horses during winter. In other words, because of the temperature drop. Usually, sick or debilitated horses also wear neck rugs to help recovery. A long time ago, these types of rugs were expensive. Only wealthy horse owners could afford such a treat for their animals. But today’s neck covers are affordable and readily available.
During summer, a blanket with neck cover protects a horse from insect bites. Of course, the summer blanket must be as light as it can be to avoid overheating. Indeed, no horse rug should make a horse’s temperature rise at rest during the warm seasons. For this reason, most summer blankets are made of breathable, mesh material. High-quality products may add useful features, such as:
- Reflection of sun rays to keep your horse cool
- Seamless design for a more comfortable wear
- Tear resistant materials
- Adjustable front buckle(s) for a perfect fit
On balance, you should be careful when using a neck cover in the rain. When it snows or rains, a horse’s temperature drops. But its sweat is a far more insidious enemy. In fact, sweat leads to dehydration first and to respiratory problems next. In brief, excessive blanketing causes the horse to overheat and sweat more than necessary. As a result, the horse increases its chances of getting ill or getting injured.
When Your Horse’s Neck Hurts
One of the common misuses of neck rugs and covers comes from wrongly treating horses’ headaches and neck pain. For example, a typical cause of headache in horses is the impaired movement of the cervical vertebrae. In detail, the most frequent is precisely at the level of the first cervical vertebra, the Atlas.
Unequal neck movement can occur relatively easily when the horse develops contractures of the neck muscles. That is, a problem common to those horses that go backward, leaning on the bit. Or in those who have the bad habit of pulling back to escape work.
Wrong training can also be a cause of these problems. For instance, coercive methods that force the horse to always keep the neck in a dangerous position. If the instructions cause harmful alterations, adverse consequences on health are inevitable.
All horses, in order to feel good, should alternate training phases with moments of relaxation. Especially on long reins, just to relax the neck muscles. In fact, these muscles should never stay tight for too long. But sadly, some horse owners think that a simple neck cover will do the trick. Unfortunately, that is not how the neck covers work.
If your horse is experiencing neck pain or showing signs of headaches, you should contact an equine doctor.
Tips To Correctly Use Horse Neck Rugs and Hoodies
- Do not use neck blankets that are too tight. Especially on the shoulders, they can create pressure. As a result, excessive pressure may alter the circulation and cause muscle contractures in the neck.
- You should always remove the neck rug at least once a day and check the condition of the horse. If you notice areas where the rubbing has taken away the hair or even bruised the skin, do not put that blanket on. In this case, it is absolutely necessary to change blankets and wash the one you removed.
- At any moment, limit all possible causes of stress, such as long confinement in the box or overtraining. They only cause physical and psychological distress.
Does My Horse Need a Neck Cover? Conclusion
Your horse may need a neck cover during winter to avoid getting cold. Or during summer to recover better or prevent insect bites. As a careful horse owner, you should watch out for signs that your horse is itching or sweating under the neck rug.
No horse should suffer from overheating or sweating when wearing a neck cover. Also, consult your equine vet for advice on how to help your horse to recover from headache and neck pain. Do not assume that neck covers can cure your horse’s problems.