Horse rugs or horse blankets are used for a number of different reasons by horse owners all over the world. It helps maintain a comfortable setting to keep our horses to stay healthy, warm and well-groomed. For any horse owner that is looking for the right type, you may want to start by understanding what exactly is needed according to some important aspects.
Weather and Seasons
Depending on which side of the world you live in, there are different seasonal combinations that you may have. Understanding the weather conditions that your horse is exposed can help you prepare better so that you can avoid any uncomfortable setup for your animal. When all is done, you should be able to distinguish when to protect your horse from heat versus wet conditions. And sometimes, even during snowy environments.
Your horses usually have their individual needs and character. Whether they are bred for competition or leisure, you would need to consider that not all horses are alike. There are horses whose muscles need to be maintained for a purpose, other ones whose coat must be kept clean for a show, horses who may have more freedom under the sun, or even horses that are injured. At the end of the day, your horses should feel comfortable with the layers that you put on them.
A good horse blanket is breathable, has a snug fit, and provides ample protection for your horse against the environment. Rugs could come in different sizes, weights, and designs. So, please take the time to think about the size measurement for your horse, the varying weight conditions based on the weather, and the design style so that you can maximize the coat’s specifications.
Winter Horse Rugs
Over the colder months of the year, horses tend to build their winter coat naturally for insulation. Although most horses will grow this coat, this does not work well under wet nor windy situations. So even if you clothe a horse rug on them, there is still a chance that they will feel colder if it is an incorrect blanket. Some horses will have a thinner winter coat, probably because they are those for the show. And in this case, a horse blanket would be necessary to keep them warm.
A good type of horse rugs during the freezing months is Turnout Rugs and Stable Rugs. This type keeps them insulated throughout the field.
Turnout Rugs usually have a waterproof and ripstop material. The quality is measured in denier which is equivalent to strength and durability. Essentially, the higher the number, the better the quality. The purpose of turnout rugs is to keep your horse clean and dry while they are out on the field. The rug can come in different levels of thickness and designs. Some may have a neck and belly coverage. A good quality turnout rug should be breathable and provides no build-up of sweat.
Stable Rugs are not necessarily designed for outside use. It is intended to keep a horse warm while they are in their stables so most designs may not even be waterproof. The material for most is padded or synthetic that has varying thickness because it offers different degrees of warmth for your horse. Aside from being breathable, it should still provide some freedom to move. Horses that are kept in stables day-in and day-out should be clothed with some variant. During the day, stable rugs can be removed or clothed with lightweight material since the temperature will be warmer. And it is when at night that the temperature drops and a heavier stable rug are needed.
Mesh Horse Rugs
Mesh rugs tend to provide better airflow when it is worn on the horse because of its fabric and material. They provide an excellent job in preventing coat dry out after a rain shower, easing any itch that the horse may have. There are a few types of mesh rugs that vary in thickness. A 410 gsm and a 270 gsm mesh. The 410 gsm has a thicker type of mesh that is stronger and durable. It has a heavier thread that is more applicable for horses that suffer itching. The 270 gsm rug is a new soft mesh that has a flat type of weave. It is immensely lighter and offers a cooler airflow. This can be applicable for horses that have a sensitive coat.
Cooler rugs are meant to cool down horses after a lengthy exercise. It prevents sweat from chills to occur for horses since they are designed to let moisture evaporate. During cool weather, it can be placed under another winter rug so that horses can dry off properly and add extra insulation.
Flag rugs have a very lightweight material that is weaved in cotton, much like the quality of a cheesecloth. It is very applicable during warmer weather conditions if you want to keep light dirt off and away. This can be worn for horses while on stables or within the yard. With its lightweight material, there is a tendency to snag and easily get destroyed since it is very thin. Usually, it has 160-170 gsm for thickness.
Summer Horse Rugs
Since summer presents warmer weather, it is not relevant to put a horse blanket if the intention is to keep them warm. However, you can protect their skin from when there are harsh sun rays. Or perhaps when you are transporting your horse – you may want to keep them clean for a show and protected from insect bites. In this case, below are a few recommendations that can work in such weather conditions.
Fly Sheets are lightweight mesh-type of rugs that provide protection from insect bites and flying annoyances over the summer season. Some sizes and styles include the neck and the belly of the horse for better coverage. In case there are more pesky insects, you can even avail of types that reach head coverage. Those are the ones with fly masks or fly bonnets. Usually, these styles are easily removed by fixed clips. A good fly rug is one that can offer UV protection for a horse’s coat and skin. It should also be comfortable to use and one that has good material so that dust and dirt do not easily penetrate.
How to Measure a Horse for a Rug
Now that you have understood the types and usage of horse rugs, we move to wearability and fit. A correct horse rug provides sufficient protection for your horse yet allows them to move naturally without discomfort. It should not constrain the legs as it can only injure your animal if they get caught in it. One way to eliminate this is to choose a good brand that has decent positive reviews.
Different providers offer horse rugs for sale in numerous styles and sizes. So, before purchasing, check the specifications in detail. If the information is not available, you should take the time to ask or look around for other options.
To ensure that your rug will fit, you should start by measuring your horse with a bendable tape measure. Measure their chest level starting from the center and towards the widest part of their shoulder. Next is to measure one side of the body where you plan to have a horse rug to start and end by the hindquarter.
Once you are set with these, it would be great that you keep this measurement and allocate some buffer. For those who are new to wearing a horse rug to the animal, it is advisable to get an experienced trainer to do this. Below are some steps to help guide you:
Place the Horse Rug:
Fold the horse rug in half lengthwise, from neck to tail
Gently place them over the horseback and swing the straps over the shoulders until everything is properly laid
Start with the chest straps and make sure that it is neither tied too tight or too loose. You should be able to slip your hand between the horse skin and rug.
Move along the horse’s back and gently expand the coat so that it lays flat
Continue securing the surcingle strap found just ahead of the belly
Fasten leg straps, if there are any by passing them between the hind legs on the correct side
When everything is in place, check your horse for any discomfort and adjust the straps as necessary
How to Wash Horse Rugs
When it comes to horse rugs, there is a chance of wear and tear over time. Here, you can gauge the quality of the product and built trust with some brands.
However, if you would like to lengthen the life of a rug, here are a couple of maintenance tips that should help you:
Clean up of small debris
Do not let your horse wear the rug over a long period. Ideally, it is removed daily so that you can perform a regular check for any build-up of hair, oil, or dirt. If these are present, then clean them often. Also, make sure that you check for any signs of trapped moisture or other factors that can cause skin problems or coat damage.
Fabric tears and buckle conditions
Make sure that you can check for tears in the fabric so that you can address them quickly. In case of a couple of small snags, try to sew and repair them before the area widens further. By addressing small damages, you can extend the usability of the material. You can also leverage on repair services if you are not experienced, especially for addressing buckles, straps, and the surcingle.
Having your horse always well-groomed plays a huge factor because it keeps the material feel neat and new over long periods. It prevents any dirt to pile up in the small weaves of the fabric. Try to keep your animals groomed before mounting a horse rug so that they can also feel comfortable around it. Check if the horse’s weight or growth is affected by the size of the rug so that neither of them is constrained.
When storing the horse rug by the end of the season, consider brushing off any dirt on the outer shell of the rug and make it spot clean. Use a vacuum or a comb that can pick up loose hair and follow your product manufacturer’s instructions for washing it. If needed, contact a professional washing service that is specialized for horse rugs. Make sure that they are kept dry and clean for the next season by storing them in an air-tight container. This also helps prevent any insects or rodents to do some damage.
How to Decide Horse Rug based on Outside Temperature
Some may argue that horse rugs are unnecessary as horses can survive bare. And although this is true, feeling bare on a cold environment is not always healthy for horses that you already consider as a valued companion. Horse rugs are made specifically for them to be able to protect them under certain conditions. And this may not seem much, but we think that it presents some impact in maintaining your horse’s skin, coat, and overall mood and performance. So, before buying that rug, please do take the time in identifying the needs before investing. And when you do get to invest in one, make sure that you maintain them so that no value is lost.