The complete guide to horse rugs
A Cooler Rug is a breathable rug which impedes the onset of chills on a sweating horse after exercise. The unique design soaks and holds the excess moisture away from the horse’s coat. The moisture evaporates within the rug, thus the horse is able to cool down steadily.
The cooler rug is versatile in that it can be used for added warmth in colder months, and also under turnout and stable rugs to assist a horse to get dry after exercising on winter days.
Different types of horse rugs
Anti-Sweat Rugs are made of cotton mesh. This variety of horse rugs is also useful to impede the chills on horses that are cooling down after exercising. The mesh of anti-sweat rugs varies in size. The smallest sized cotton mesh anti-sweat rugs also assist to block additional irritation from flies. Anti-Sweat rugs are usually front-fastening, but a surcingle can be applied to secure the rug more securely.
Exercise Rugs are to be used whilst riding to help the horse keep dry and warm. The rug covers the body of the horse from the front of the saddle to the rear of the horse. Some exercise rugs have cut-away areas for the saddle, while are meant to cover the saddle also.
Fleece Rugs are very versatile horse rugs used as light rugs for the stable or as a substitute for a cooler rug. These rugs are warm, breathable and usually come in beautiful eye-catching colours.
Bothersome biting insects are kept at bay by Fly Rugs/Sheets. These rugs are fine lightweight mesh rugs which protect horses from flies and biting bugs in the grass. These rugs incorporate a neck cover which is attached to the fly rug/sheet using clips. Most fly rugs include a belly flap to protect the horses belly from insects, while some fly rugs also have fly bonnets or masks which are used to cover the horses face for total protection. Horses with pale sensitive skin also benefit from fly rugs as they provide sun protection, keep the horses coat free of dust, grit and dirt, while also preventing sun-bleaching.
Stable Rugs are usually made from synthetic material which is quilted or padded. These rugs come in varying degrees of thickness, filling weight and different levels of warmth provision for horses. As suggested by their name, the rugs are for use within the stables. They are not waterproof rugs and are not for use outdoors. Like most rugs, the stable rug is breathable and holds perspiration away from the horse’s body, allowing the cooling-down process to be more gradual. Occasionally, stable rugs incorporate pleats allowing the horse to experience greater flexibility and movement. Horses that are kept in stables during both nighttime and daytime may benefit from specific types of stable rugs according to the temperature, like the night and day stable rugs.
Traditionally, horses that need to be kept warm and dry during winter whilst out in the paddock use New Zealand Rugs. This is a type of canvas or waxed cotton turnout rug which is waterproof and usually comes in green.
Spring and summer rugs
With spring arriving and summer approaching it is time to start thinking about your horse or pony’s summer rug requirements. With many different types of rugs now available on the market, deciding on the most suitable rug can be quite daunting.
Firstly there are some factors which you should take into consideration:
• Has your horse or pony been stabled or field kept throughout winter?
• Has your horse or pony been clipped?
• The type/breed of your horse or pony
If your horse or pony has been fully clipped and stabled throughout winter then he/she will need a heavier weight rug i.e. a rug with more fill then one which has not been clipped and has been field kept.
Turnout rugs are split into several different categories to help identify the rug you require. Throughout the coldest parts of winter your horse or pony has most probably been in a heavy weight rug which would have between 300g to 400g fill. This would then have been replaced with a medium weight rug with around 180g to 220g.
During spring the weather will start to get warmer, although there can still be a risk of heavy showers and the temperature dropping when the sun is not out. If your horse has been stabled a lot during winter and has been clipped then a medium lite turnout rug would be good transitional rug to use. It has around 100g of fill and will therefore provide your horse or pony with some warmth whilst still having the flexibility of being light enough if the weather was to change.
When the temperature starts to get warmer a light weight turnout rug can be used instead. This rug has no fill and will provide your horse or pony with protection from the wind and rain.
With both of these rugs you can choose between a combo and a standard neck design. The combo design will provide your horse or pony with additional protection on their neck. This design is useful if your horse or pony is living out or has been fully clipped throughout winter.
When summer arrives it brings along another problem, flies! Some horses and ponies are not worried about being hassled by flies whilst others can find this upsetting. If he/she does fall into this category then a good quality fly rug will help provide protection from the flies. It is important when choosing a fly rug, you look for one which will provide good protection from your horse or pony’s tail to head therefore a combo design is ideal. A large tail flap and large belly cover which goes underneath your horse or pony are extra design features to help increase protection.
It is important to remember that the temperature can drop at night during spring and summer and if your horse or pony is out overnight then they may require a rug putting on, a thicker rug or an extra layer. As a general guide, it is best to go up to the next weight rug if the temperature is going to drop during the night.
Buying a horse rug
Before you buy any sort of horse rug, you need to correctly measure your horse. An ill-fitting turnout rug can cause problems for horses. If a horse rug is too small, it will restrict movement and cause sores while horse rugs that are too large can fall off tangle the horse’s legs.
There are lots of places that you can find horse rugs that will fit your horse. You will probably need more than one horse rug to use throughout the year as winter horse rugs will often have fleece linings to keep the animal warm.
Once you have noted down the correct measurements for the horse rug, you can start looking. If you choose to buy a new turnout rug, there are lots of places you can go. Your local tack and feed shop will have horse rugs. Great deals on horse rugs can often be found at Equine Superstore.
It may be the case that you want to save some money and buy a used turnout rug. Many people sell their horse rugs when the horse has died, been sold or even outgrown it and there can be fantastic deals to be found.
You could also search for horse rugs in classified publications as well as asking around at various horse shows or local stables.