09/05/2018 To rug or not to rug? That is the question!

Uncle George is currently our oldest, and some think, our cutest resident. Shetland pony George stands at only 39 inches and retired from Battersea Children’s Zoo back in 2004. Uncle George 40 years young and long term resident here at The Horse Trust sets matters straight.

I wanted to make sure everyone understands. I need to make sure everyone understands how we horses and ponies work in the colder weather as there seems to have been some ahem... confusion. So please, let me clarify…

UNCLE GEORGE ON RUGGINGI wear a rug when it’s cold because, according to Teddy, I am "totes ancient". I am certainly pretty old even for a Shetland pony. This however also makes me wise. I am the only Shetland wearing a rug in this picture because I am that bit older, the others are very warm in the woolly coats they grew themselves. We were designed to live on Shetland which is normally far colder than it is in Buckinghamshire and doesn't even have trees to shelter us and so the others are just fine thank you.

Most of the horses and ponies that live at the Home of Rest have thick woolly coats they grew themselves because they are native breeds designed for life in the cold, and because they are retired and not clipped for riding anymore. Some like Big Klyde need lots of layers and extra food because he's 19hh and part thoroughbred, which is frankly bonkers but there you have it, we are all different is the point. Also we spend all day eating hay and the like and this creates a big radiator in our tummies that keeps us warm from the inside. If our skin under our hair is warm to the touch then we are not cold. It's pretty simple. If our skin under our hair is cool or cold to the touch we need human assistance in the form of a rug or maybe even a stable or barn.

If we are warm to the touch and you put a rug on us we get sweaty and this can be very itchy and uncomfortable (especially if we have grown our winter coats) and also lead to nasty skin problems. It can also mean we get a bit more rotund than is good for us as we are eating calories but not burning any to work or even to keep warm. So please everyone, remember wise old Uncle George and trust the experts.