Leaving Horses Out in the Rain

When you first get a new horse, you think you’ve learned everything about horse care. But, as time passes, you experience different situations that leave you confused. The first rain on your horse will be no different.

There are a lot of questions that come to mind regarding horses in wet weather. Do horses need shelter from the rain, can horses get sick from being in the rain, do horses get cold in the rain, is it okay to leave your horse out in the rain, and all other questions will be answered in this post.

Risk of Sickness 

The main reason why leaving horses in the rain is not recommended is because of the risk of sickness. Here are some common issues your horse might experience after being in the rain.

Rain Rot

When the bacteria on the coat of the horse finds a way to go underneath the skin, it leads to dry, flaky patches. The back, neck, and head of the horse are most at risk of this infection.

This bacterial infection is highly common in horses who spend a lot of time under the rain. However, rain isn’t the only culprit. Any wounds or scratches on the skin can lead to rain rot.

Mud Fever

Mud fever is pretty much the same as rain rot. However, mud fever only affects the legs. When your horse is out in the rain for too long, the bacteria on the outer skin finds a way to get inside the wet, squishy skin.

Hoof Infections

During the wet weather, your horses’ hooves will probably stay wet for a long time. This causes a bacterial infection called thrush. If left untreated, the tissue of the hooves can get damaged which in turn makes it painful for the horse to walk.

Moreover, since the walking surface is soft and muddy, the hooves do not get any natural trimming. This can lead to a loss of balance.


When it rains, the bacteria from deep under the soil move to the surface. If this bacteria enters your horse’s body, it will experience loss of appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. For pregnant mares, it is extremely dangerous as it can cause an abortion.
However, luckily, leptospirosis is rather rare.

Slipping Hazard

Rain will leave the surrounding area wet. This means, there’s a high chance that the walking surface will get slippery. If your horse falls, it could get seriously injured. Anything from body pains to a fracture is possible.

Increase in Insect Population

Moist warm spots are nothing but the perfect reproductive ground for insects. When it rains on mud, you should expect insect infestations.

This obviously means a lot more insects will surround your horse. That is annoying as well as unsanitary.
Moreover, it’s risky if the horse swallows an insect or larva. Blister beetles are the most dangerous. They excrete a poison which, if swallowed even in the tiniest amount, can kill the horse.

So, other than avoiding direct rain on a horse, you should also keep your horse from strolling around in wet muddy areas.

Tips to Manage Horses in Wet Weather

You might be thinking at this point, ‘I don’t want to leave my horse out in the rain. I don’t want to deal with sick horses. So, what can I do to provide my horse with a durable shelter from the rain?’

Take these tips as a survival guide to help you manage horses in wet weather.

First of all, instead of leaving horses in the rain, you should opt for a rain-friendly shelter. A 3-sided shelter is budget-friendly and perfect for all weathers. You can also go for wood. However, wood may not be the most ideal material, if your area experiences a lot of storms. Completely enclosed shelters are not recommended for anxious horses.

Other than that, brush pig oil on your horse’s legs. It will prevent mud from sticking on the legs so, there won’t be a risk of mud fever.

During the winters, trim your horse’s tail. Since there aren’t any flies in that season, your horse won’t need it. But, the benefit of trimming the tail will be one less wet body part.

Use straw to cover up muddy areas. This will keep your horse from getting muddy and also minimize the risk of slipping.

People Also Asked

Are you still confused about the effects of rain on a horse? Well, these FAQs will help clarify your queries.

Is it okay for horses to stand in the rain?

Standing in the rain for a little while isn’t harmful to horses. But, it is dangerous. Heavy rainfall, especially in cold weather, can make your horse sick.
Other than that, rain comes with a chance of lightning. In such circumstances, it is life-threatening for a horse to stand in the rain. It’s best to keep your horse sheltered for its safety.

Are horses OK in the rain without a rug?

Horses can survive the rain on their own without the need for a rug. For centuries, the animal has survived without the need for any manmade items. However, if you’re not offering any rugs or blankets, make sure there is a warm shelter to keep your horse from falling sick.
Other than that, if your horse needs to burn some fat, keep it away from rugs so that it burns some energy to keep itself warm.

Why do horses shiver in the rain?

Horses shiver to burn energy to create warmth. It is normal for a horse to shiver on a rainy day. Horses find it harder to cope with rain than cold. So, even if it’s raining on a hot day, your horse may shiver.
However, shivering on a sunny day can be a sign of chronic neuromuscular disease.

Can you put blankets on wet horses?

Never put a blanket on a wet horse. It will prevent the horse’s coat from drying. Make sure to wait till the horse is completely dry before you put on a blanket. Also, keep wet blankets away from your horse’s body.


By this point, your confusion about leaving your horse out in the rain is definitely clarified. You are well informed about the risks but also have the best tips for wet weather to keep your horse safe and healthy.

Now, your horse’s survival in cold weather is no longer an issue!