03 December 2008

Static build up in horse rugs?

I recently had a very interesting telephone conversation with an owner and thought I should share it with you all. I asked the owner to post her story on my forum and here is the slightly edited version.

I hope you guys will find my story interesting - and maybe along the way it will help some other distressed horse owners !!

My 8 yr old mare lives out 24/7 all summer and is stabled at night during the winter between the months of October and April. When my mare comes in for the winter her behaviour becomes bizarre, irratic, unexplainable and inconsistent.
The main issue was always that when turned out for the first few weeks she would graze but at points during the day she would simply bolt from one end of the field to the other with no regard for her safety she would even run at gates and "forget" to stop. She lost all her herd instincts. Worried and having many sleepless nights I had her blood tested as it was suggested to me that she may have a hormonal imbalance, two weeks later still waiting for test results (her blood has been sent to the States!!). After these first few weeks of being a looney in the field she would lose all her basic instincts ie. leave the rest of the herd, not roll, but more importantly not eat, she would simply stand by the gate and refuse to move or eat. My attempts to lead her away from the gate ended in disaster (ie. running blindly back towards it) I tried to tempt her with food (my horse is food obsessed) she wouldn't leave the "security" of the gate.
My horse was only interested in my company and being safely tucked up in her stable 24/7. This is NOT normal.
I spoke with Steve Thompson who suggested that if it wasn't hormonal it was possibly food related so we agreed to gradually switch her from haylage to hay for a week or so and see if it made any difference.*
On Saturday it was too icy to ride her so I took her for a walk with her fleece rug on - on the way back it seemed to be rubbing a bit so I took it off and she walked home "naked". When I got back to the yard it was a little too early for stabling her for the night so I put her in the field "naked" just for a few minutes whilst i put the other horses beds down. When I went back to get her she had "disappeared". After everything I had been through I thought she had been abducted by aliens!!!! but NO she was grazing away from the gate.
The following morning - the coldest of the year so far she was turned out with rug - stood at gate. Rug off - Bye Bye horse she trotted off to join her friends and eat.
It was suggested to me that she may be getting too much static from her rug - which was interesting. I have 3 rugs 1 Amigo Turnout rug - which is Nylon lined and 2 Weatherbeta Rugs 1 Nylon lined and the other cotton lined. She is NOT happy in the Nylon lined rugs she is a little happier in the cotton lined one but seems to prefer to be rugless (even in the worst weather conditions). For a TB X this is bizarre, you would expect her to be shivering and a miserable wreck but I have to say she is a different horse without her rug. The RSPCA may come knocking but my horse, for the first time in weeks is a VERY HAPPY HORSE, so I am a VERY HAPPY HORSE OWNER.
So if any of you guys out there have a similar problem - bite the bullet, take off the rug and see what happens.

Once this was pointed out to me it seemed so obvious, after all there are so many people out there who can't wear certain materials because it makes them ill, builds up too much static or brings them out in a rash, so why can't it do the same for horses. I will certainly be adding this to my list of possible reasons for unusual behaviour in the future.

* I reasoned that as no previous owners had fed the horse haylage and reported no unusual behaviour that there might just be a link.

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