Just like we shiver when we are cold, you may see your horse shivering on a cold day or when they are wet from the rain. Shivering is a sign that your horse is uncomfortable and cold!
If it’s possible, you shoulder intervene and think of ways to prevent this happening in the future!
I have been riding horses all my life, including several years of competitive riding, and in that time I have come up with the ultimate tips to help any horse that you see shivering.
So here are my 7 top tips to help your horse that tends to shiver in the rain.
1. How To Tell if Your Horse is Cold
If you peek outside and your horse is shivering, they should immediately come inside where it is warm, or at least where there is shelter – like a run-in or covered area [Source].
A lot of the time horses will seek shelter or cover during inclement weather naturally. You may find that your horse is pacing back and forth and is moving around more than usual.
This may also be their attempt to keep warm. I would pay special attention if your horse is clipped, has a thin coat, or is just a thin or elderly horse.
These factors may also contribute to your horse not being able to keep as warm and may be more sensitive to lower temperatures.
2. My Horse is Wearing a Blanket, But is Still Shivering
If your horse is wearing a blanket, take a feel under the blanket. They should be warm and dry to the touch.
It may be difficult to tell if your horse is truly warm under their blanket, but it should be very clear whether they are dry or wet. They could be wet for a number of reasons.
It’s possible that they got to warm under their blanket and started to sweat.
Just like you can get a “cold sweat”, horses can become cold from this. It can also cause their blanket to become wet and that can also contribute to horses being cold. If this is the case, you can simply take off the sweaty blanket, towel dry your horse’s coat and only put on a new blanket when they are dry.
You may want to use a Irish knit or cooler in the mean time to keep them warm and try to absorb some of the moisture out of their coat [Source].
Another reason your blanket could be wet is that it simply isn’t waterproofed and got wet from mud or rain. It’s also a possibly that the blanket has lost its waterproofing coating.
If you suspect your blanket is no longer as waterproof as you once thought, it may be very simple to send out the blanket to be re-proofed or just simply do it yourself. It would be wise then to retest your blanket before assuming it’s good to go. Sometimes blankets just need to be replaced, especially after a few seasons.
Consider keeping this blanket as a back up stable blanket, and buy another one that’s waterproof for outside.
3. My Horse Doesn’t Normally Wear a Blanket – Should I Blanket in the Rain?
Many people do not blanket their horses, and let them grow out long thick coats to keep warm in the winter.
If your horse is not normally blanketed, it is not recommended to suddenly blanket them as they could very easily overheat. Some horses are naturally hotter than others and if they need a blanket it’s very minimal.
On the other hand, some horses just naturally run cold or have thin coats. Every horse should be treated differently and you should keep an eye on horses in extreme temperatures to see what they may need.
It’s best to have a well fitting rain sheet available to use if you need it, but its not necessary if you horse seems happy and comfortable.
4. My Horse Likes Being Outside Even in the Rain
If your horse tends to live life in an open field, and doesn’t spend a lot of time indoors – having some type of shelter is crucial. Horses need shelter for a variety of reasons including good and bad weather!
Shelter provides shade on hot sunny days, a place to go here they feel safe if they are suddenly started, and of course a place to go to shield from the rain. There are a couple of options as far as shelter is concerned.
5. Types of Shelter For Horses in the Rain
A run-in shed is a great option for horses who tend to live in wide open areas lacking natural shelter.
These sheds tend to have 3 sides and a roof (but can also just have two sides and a roof). This structure type allows horses to come in and out freely. It gives a source of shade and protection from wind and rain.
You should make sure this structure is well built and stable to withstand the elements. You should also make sure this area is waterproofed or else it’s pretty useless when it comes to the rain. This area should be big enough for your horse to be comfortable to move around and lay down if they want.
It would also be wise to make sure there’s a water source in the shed so they don’t have to venture out into the elements to stay hydrated.
If the weather is going to be exceptionally bad, planning ahead buy leaving hay in the area will keep your horse happily munching away. Horses trying to keep warm burn calories, so having them munch on hay will replenish their calories and help them keep warm at the same time.
In and Out Stall
Another option is having your paddock or field connect directly to your horses stall.
This is a great option if you have the facility and area equipped for this. Your horse can also choose when they want to go inside and when they want to go outside. In severely inclement weather, you can chose to keep your horse inside and secure the door that leads to the open area.
Horses naturally generate heat and horses together in a barn will be much warmer than outside under a freestanding open structure.
6. How to Prevent Rainy Day Blues
Keeping an eye on the forecast is the first step to prevent your horse from standing out in the rain shivering.
You should always have some form of shelter whether it be a run in shed, and in and out stall, or just skipping their time outside for the day in general.
If your horses are usually out from 8 to 5 but it’s supposed to rain at noon, try to arrange for them to be brought in before the rain if there’s no option for them to be under shelter.
7. How to Keep Your Horse Happy Inside During the Rain
If your horse is not used to be locked inside, you may find that they are anxious and pacing back and forth. This could cause your horse to become stressed and even overheat, which could lead to other potential issues.
Keep your horse entertained if they have to be indoors. May sure your horse has plenty of hay available to keep them busy. Consider a slow feeder so they have to take their time and keep their focus on getting the hay out rather than being stuck indoors.
If they need to be inside for an extended period of time, hand walking them through the aisle or outside with a proper water proof sheet will help them keep their anxiety down and let them stretch their legs for a bit [Source].
Horses in the wild do fine without sheets and blankets and naturally seek shelter and group together to stay warm. If your horse or horses don’t have these options, there are many things you can do to prepare for a rainy day.
Consider building a shelter, having waterproof blankets or simply keep your horse inside during inclement weather. If you do have to keep your horse indoors for an extended period of time, try to keep them entertained with plenty of hay, stall snacks and brief hand walks.
With these helpful tips you may not be able to avoid rainy days, but you can try to avoid the rainy day blues!
How to Tell if Your Horse is Cold! Pro Equine Grooms. (n.d.). https://www.proequinegrooms.com/tips/health-and-well-being/is-your-horse-cold-how-to-tell.
Kalio. (n.d.). Tips for Coping with Stall Boredom and Stable Vices. Dover Saddlery. https://www.doversaddlery.com/tips-for-coping-with-stall-boredom-and-stable-vices/a/506/.
Staff, K. E. R. (2018, January 14). Planning Run-In Sheds for Horses. Kentucky Equine Research. https://ker.com/equinews/planning-run-sheds-horses/.
To Blanket or Not to Blanket. Keeping Horses Healthy for Life. (n.d.). https://www.totalequinevets.com/client-center/resources/TEVApedia/blanket-or-not-blanket.