Leaving Horses Out in the Rain: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re new to horses, you might be wondering if it’s okay to leave your horse out in the rain when it’s downpouring. I definitely asked this same question when I first became a horse owner, so my goal is to give you all the information I wish I had.

Will a horse be okay when it’s left out in the rain? The answer depends upon the horse and the length of time that they will be in the rain. Some horses are more susceptible to the health problems that rain can cause, while others might be comfortable in it and prefer staying out as opposed to being placed in a stall. In severe weather conditions when hail and flying debris are present, horses should be provided with adequate shelter.

Let’s examine these different factors to help you determine what solution might be right for your horse. Quick disclaimer! This is what I’ve learned from my personal experience and from being around other horse owners. You should always check with your vet when it comes to your horse’s health.

Horse Health Concerns Caused by Rain

Horse in Rain

Rain Rot

Rain rot is a common skin condition in horses that is caused by moisture on a horse’s skin. Because of this, it is the most common in areas that get a lot of rain or have very high humidity rates.

The condition can look rather serious, but thankfully it’s fairly easy to treat. Although, it does take some time for a horse’s coat to fill back in, in the affected areas. Rain rot should be dealt with quickly when it occurs because it can lead to other infections.

Some horses are more susceptible to rain rot than others. It can be difficult to know how susceptible a horse might be until they’ve actually gotten rain rot. Because of this, it’s smart to exercise caution when caring for a horse that you’re not entirely familiar with to see how they fair with moderately wet weather conditions.

There are a couple of measures that can be taken to prevent rain rot in your horse altogether. One of the best preventative methods is to simply keep their coat clean by brushing them regularly. The next method is to avoid wetness and moisture altogether, however, this can prove difficult depending upon the region you’re in. Avoid leaving wet blankets on your horse that contain moisture to the horse’s skin.

Hoof Infections

Thrush is a common hoof infection that can occur in a horse’s hoof whether their feet are wet or dry; however, it can be more prevalent during the wetter seasons as the hooves will be more susceptible to absorbing harmful bacteria. Thrush is a bacterial infection that will continue to effect the hoof until treated. At times, thrush can expose the sensitive tissue of a horse’s hooves, making it painful for them to walk.

The best way to avoid thrush is to have your horse’s hooves inspected regularly and ensure that their feet stay dry more than they’re wet. There are also ointments to treat thrush, such as Kopertox and Thrush Buster.

Hoof Length 

Moisture content can effect the growth rate of your horse’s hooves. Hooves are extremely absorbent and will quickly absorb moisture. This makes the horse’s feet soft and sensitive. It will also make them grow faster! During the wet season, your horse may need their hooves trimmed more often than during the dry seasons.

When it’s the rainy season, check your horse’s hooves regularly to make certain that they’re not overdue for a trim. You can learn more about caring for your horse’s hooves in the article I wrote here.

Taking Care of Horses in Severe Weather Conditions  

The majority of horses will fare fine in mild weather conditions, but when the weather becomes more serious, additional steps should be taken to ensure their safety.

Caring for Horses in Cold Rain

When horses are both cold and wet, there can be the risk of their temperatures becoming dangerously low. In these types of conditions, it’s recommended that horses have a shelter available that they can take refuge in.

Caring for Horses in Tornados, Hail Storms, and High Wind Speeds

When tornados, hail, or high winds are in the forecast, it’s important that horses have some type of shelter that can sufficiently protect them from flying debris. Without proper shelter in these situations, they can very easily become wounded.

What Type of Shelters Do Horses Need to Stay Safe in Bad Weather? 

Cold Horse How to Tell

When it comes to shelters for your horse, there are a number of options available. However, some are certainly better than others. Here are a few of the most popular shelter options you might consider providing for your horse.

Woods 

While not the best option available, thick woods can provide a decent level of shelter for horses in a variety of situations. In the summer, horses can take to the woods to cool off. They can also be an ideal location to get out of rain and hail.

The drawbacks of woods are that in windy weather conditions, falling limbs and other flying debris can cause injury to horses.

3-Sided Shelters 

The benefit of 3-sided shelters is how cost-effective they are. They can quickly and easily be installed in most any pasture without much hassle. While they don’t provide quite as much shelter as a full-enclosure, they’re perfect for keeping horses out of the wind, rain, and sun.

3-sided shelters are typically built with the wind in mind. If the wind in a particular area consistently blows the strongest from the east, then the opening to the shelter would be on the opposite side in order to offer as much protection as possible.

Full-Enclosures 

Full-enclosures provide the most safety and security for the majority of horses. Because of their design, the temperature in full-enclosures should be comfortable for horses year-round as long as they’re properly ventilated.

Some horses DO NOT like being kept in a stall no matter the circumstances and can be a danger to themselves when they are placed in one. For horses like this, an alternative shelter option is recommended to keep them happy and safe.

If you’re looking for a good boarding stable for your horse, you can check out my tips in the article I wrote here

Thank you for reading, and best of luck to you and your horse! If you would like to keep learning, you can check out more of my recent horse health and safety articles here

P.S. Save this article to your Horse Care Pinterest Board! 

Leaving Horses In The Rain: What You Need To Know

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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

Hi! I’m Carmella

My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

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