A horse standing in the rain is difficult to avoid when kept in a paddock
But are horses allowed to stand in the rain at all?
In this article you will learn when and how often horses are allowed to stand in the rain and when protection is advised. We will also show you what to look out for, what the risks are and what options you have for your horse’s safety.
Are horses allowed to stand in the rain?
There is no blanket answer to this question. Several factors play decisive roles. Among these are:
Health of the animal
Duration of the rain
Health of the horse as a determining factor
The most important factor in determining whether your horse should be allowed to stand in the rain is its health.
Already sick, old or weak animals should not be exposed to cold rain.
This is because wet fur in combination with wind or cold rain will cause the body to cool down.
On the one hand, this means that more energy is needed to maintain body temperature. If the organism is already weakened, this can overstress it.
Hypothermia can cause serious health problems.
Duration of the rain
A short rain shower is usually not a problem for horses. Even older or sick and weak animals can withstand it without any problems if they can dry out quickly.
If, on the other hand, the rain lasts for days, it becomes dangerous.
On the one hand, this can result in health risks that only become apparent later.
On the other hand, it can lead to acute hypothermia. The immune system is weakened and the susceptibility to diseases or life-threatening conditions increases.
If your horse is out in the pasture without shelter, it is better to bring him into the stable during longer periods of rain or extreme weather, or to provide dry coat on his body in some other way.
Temperature as a decisive point
In summer, rain showers are usually completely unproblematic for horses. The coat dries quickly due to the temperatures and hypothermia is not to be feared.
In spring, autumn and winter it is different.
Due to the lower temperatures and the often longer lasting rain phases, the coat stays wet longer.
If this is combined with cold wind, hail or even frost, even healthy horses are at risk without appropriate protection.
What are the dangers when the horse stands in the rain?
Besides the already mentioned hypothermia and weakening of the body, there are other risks and dangers when your horse stands in the rain.
Rain Rot / Rain Rot
Length and sensitivity of the hooves
1: Rain rot
Wet coat and therefore wet skin can lead to the so-called rain rot in horses.
This is a skin disease caused by the bacterium Dermatophylus congolense.
The treatment by the veterinarian is simple and with enough consistency as well as patience also quickly completed.
However, you should be careful, because the disease is also transmitted to humans. Hygiene is therefore very important.
2: Hoof infections
Hoof diseases caused by infections can be extremely painful for horses. From festering ulcers to blisters or a fungus on the hoof, some problems are possible.
If horses are frequently standing in water and are weakened by prolonged rain and associated chilling, the risk for such infections is higher.
Treatment can take a lot of time and patience. Even walking is exhausting and painful, which in turn causes other health problems.
So to avoid this, your horse should stand dry or the hooves should be able to dry as quickly as possible after rainfall. Appropriate protection is also a good idea for this.
3: Hoof length and hoof care
If the horn of the hooves swells, it becomes softer and more susceptible to pathogens.
On the other hand, however, hooves also seem to grow as a result.
This requires more frequent hoof care and more attention from you.
How to protect your horse from rain
To prevent problems caused by rain on your horse, there are several different options.
Put on a rain rug
1: Rain blanket – advantages and disadvantages
Rain blankets for horses are relatively inexpensive, easy to put on and take off.
Your horse can move easily with it and the protection covers the body.
The advantages are therefore convincing.
However, there are also disadvantages.
These include that while the body is protected, the legs, head and hooves are not.
In addition, it requires some time effort to put on and take off the rain cover again and again. If heavy rain and sun alternate, it can even lead to overheating.
However, other alternatives can be found as preventive measures and for the safety of your faithful horse.
2: Open stable – advantages and disadvantages
An open stable allows your horse to decide for itself when to seek shelter and when to move freely in the paddock.
So if it wants to refresh itself in a light rain shower in the summer, it can do so, but in heavier precipitation it can also go to the covered shelter.
Another advantage is that your horse can choose when and where to stand and you don’t have to make any effort.
For many animals this is the optimal solution.
One disadvantage, however, is that open stalls do not protect against extremes, such as strong winds.
3: Stabling – pros and cons
The advantage of keeping animals indoors is that they are much more protected and can be separated if necessary.
They are not exposed to rain and the temperature is more stable.
A definite disadvantage is the limited space. Horses need sufficient exercise, which they do not get in a box.
They also lack direct contact with conspecifics.
Some horses do not get along with stabling or boxing. They can become frustrated and aggressive.
However, for medical treatments or as protection, your horse should at least know the box and be able to accept it temporarily.
4: Trees as protection
Similar to an open stall, trees can at least provide shelter from rain and wind.
For this, however, the canopy must be very dense.
To have a small forest or at least a sufficiently large group of trees on the paddock is however only possible in the fewest cases.
In addition, in strong winds trees can be a hazard if branches break off or a tree is uprooted. So caution is advised here.
Whether you can leave your horse in the rain or have to offer him protection is always an individual decision and depends on various factors.
However, being cautious and taking appropriate protective measures in the event of prolonged precipitation is sensible in any case.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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