The Genius of How Horses Stay Warm

February 13, 2021

The Genius of How Horses Stay Warm

Horses and humans both generate their own body heat because they are warm-blooded. But horses have extra features that humans do not.  Horses possess a highly effective thermoregulation system that lets their hair coat stand up and trap body heat to create an insulating layer.  Horses have very dense, thick hair, so it is quite effective. 

They also have water-repelling natural oils in their hair.  Horses rely on these oils to prevent their skin from getting wet.  A convincing reason for why you should not bathe a horse or over-groom them!  A brush drags the oils through the coat.  This makes it is shiny in summer; however, in winter horses need these oils near their skin to act as a protective barrier to help it shed moisture. 

There is a temptation to blanket horses to keep them warm. However, a blanket flattens the horse’s hair and takes away that natural insulating layer.  It is possible that a blanket can cause a horse to be colder. 

Hair coat is a horses external heater.  They also have an internal heater; their hindgut is a furnace because this is where forage is digested. Heat is produced through the digestion process of microbial fermentation.  Keeping the digestive tract full helps a horse have a constant source of heat energy.  It is like having an extra-large wood-burner stove in their stomach!

Remember, even if people feel cold, horses can be perfectly comfortable because of these extra features.






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