It rains a lot at the moment. I dither about rugging and not rugging as the horses have good winter coats and are waterproof.
I only rug Haakon (28 years old and can get thin in winter) and Taktur (stallion who burns off energy) when I am sucking my teeth and watching every weather forecast. Freezing rain is my main rugging reason but, having said that, the horses are always so much happier when I don’t rug them and so, of course, I worry instead. They move around more without rugs. Haakon just stops with a rug on, and that is never good.
Anyway, while I was feeding Taktur his breakfast, I had a good look at the pattern of his coat.
It was actually very interesting. Icelandic horses (and Shetland ponies) have very thick winter coats designed for just this weather. They never actually get wet through to the skin. The coat has a fluffy under-coat and then longer hair on top. It clumps together to let the water run off.
Under the “points” the coat it is completely dry.
The natural grease in the coat also helps with this process and that is the main reason I don’t wash horses.
The mane is also incredibly thick and it is very warm and dry underneath – sometimes, on very cold days, I put my hands under a horse’s mane to warm them up.