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Horse Rugs: Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy

Oh boy, where do I start on the topic of horse rugs? If you’re wondering what kind of horse rug is right for your horse, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ll walk you through the different types of horse rugs, the materials used, and the best practices for buying, storing and cleaning them. This blog post is the ultimate guide to horse rugs – everything you need to know before you buy. So let’s cut to the horse chase and jump right in! And while we’re at it, we’ll also touch upon other essential horse equipment, such as saddles, horseshoes, stirrups, reins, bridles, leather halters, and tails.

Quick Review

Horse rugs come in a variety of materials, styles, and sizes. Depending on your needs, you can choose from lightweight casual sheets, all the way up to heavy-duty turnout or winter blankets for extreme weather. Just like with rugs, it’s important to select the right type of saddle, horseshoes, and stirrups for your horse’s specific requirements.


When it comes to horse rugs, there are a few different types to consider. Blankets and turnout rugs will keep your horse warm and dry during the winter months, while sheets and coolers can help reduce sweating during warm summer days. Most importantly, you’ll need to consider the horse’s activity level when selecting the type of rug. For example, a lightweight sheet may be fine for a leisurely trail ride, but if you plan on eventing or competing in other strenuous activities, you should look for something heavier-duty that won’t slip off. And don’t forget to choose appropriate reins, bridles, and halters for better control during those activities.

Whether or not to use an under rug is often debated. Some argue that they can create too much warmth and make a horse sweat, while others argue that they provide extra protection against wind or rain. Ultimately, you should decide based on the particular needs of your horse—if your horse tends to get too cold or wet during cold or rainy weather, then an under rug could be beneficial. Properly fitted lather halters can also offer added protection and comfort.

Another important factor in selecting the right horse rug is fit. Properly fitted rugs will give maximum comfort and coverage while ensuring that straps aren’t pulled too tightly around the neck or chest. This is similar to ensuring that bridles and reins are correctly adjusted to avoid discomfort or injury to the horse’s head and mouth.

These considerations aside, it is important to choose a rug that suits your individual needs and preferences. With so many options available, you can find something that meets your budget and offers both practicality and style. The same applies to other equestrian equipment like saddles, horseshoes, and tails.

Now that we understand more about the various types of rugs available for horses, let’s take a closer look at one popular option: neck-cover rugs.

Neck Cover Rugs

Neck cover rugs, also known as neck and shoulder protectors, come in many shapes, sizes, and fabrics. They provide warmth around the neck and shoulder areas, protecting them from the elements. This is especially beneficial for cold weather riding and showjumping, where your horse might be exposed to colder conditions. In some cases, you may need to fit a neck cover rug over a thicker body cover rug, or it may be used alone, so it’s essential to find one that fits securely. Some riders prefer to use two separate rugs for better flexibility when it comes to fit — one for the body and one for the neck — while others opt for combination rugs that offer coverage for both the body and neck.

When deciding between two separate rugs or a combination rug there are a few things to consider. Don’t forget to also take into account the additional equipment your horse might need, such as horseshoes for hoof protection, and well-fitted tails for comfort and support while riding. Separate pieces of clothing may be more effective at keeping your horse, with their flowing manes and swishing tails, warm than a single combination piece due to their ability to move with the animal’s every movement more independently, from a gentle whinny to a full gallop. On the other hand, combination rugs hold everything in place better and can be less costly in terms of time and money. Ultimately, both options will keep your horse warm depending on your riding discipline, horse size, and weather conditions, whether it’s a herd of mares in a pasture or a foal beside its stallion parent.

Whichever option you choose, always ensure the material is breathable and lightweight to reduce sweat build-up, and make sure rugs fit securely but comfortable enough so they don’t rub or restrict movement, even when your horse tosses its head or nibbles at bits of grass.

Having considered the different types of rugs available for horses’ necks and shoulders, it is now important to think about what type of rug suits your horse’s body best – enter body cover rugs.

  • According to an article in Horse Journals, 24% of survey respondents reported that the quality of a rug was the most significant factor when making a purchase.
  • 81% of survey respondents preferred natural fibers such as cotton or wool over water-resistant options like polyester.
  • A study published in 2017 found that 60% of horses were wearing a rug that was too small for their body size.

Top Summary Points

Neck cover rugs are used to provide warmth and protection to a horse’s neck and shoulders while riding, especially in colder weather conditions. Riders can choose between separate neck and body cover rugs, or a combination rug, depending on the horse’s size, weather conditions, and riding discipline. All rugs should be lightweight and breathable to reduce sweat buildup and should fit securely but comfortably, whether it’s for a solitary stallion or a lively foal at play in the pasture.

Body Cover Rugs

Moving on from neck cover rugs, body cover rugs are worthy of consideration when looking for a rug for your horse. Body cover rugs usually come with tail flaps, helping to protect the horse’s hindquarters and tail from dirt and debris as they gallop through a field with their herd. These can be tailored depending on the purpose they will serve. Polar fleece-lined body cover rugs, provide warmth and protection. Many have adjustable chest straps and cross sourcingles to ensure a secure fit, so you know that your horse won’t lose their rug while out and about. That said, it is important to consider which weather conditions the body cover rug is suitable for – if you plan to use it in warmer climates, then it might not be quite as effective as one specifically designed for those kinds of environments such as mesh or cotton sheets. On the flip side, if your horse is exposed to colder climates, then it might be wise to invest in a more thermal body cover rug.

Ultimately, it is up to you as the owner to choose which kind of body cover rug will suit your horse best, both in terms of comfort and protection. Neither option should be overlooked but instead considered in depth before bringing home your new companion; ensuring they have all they need to stay happy and healthy. Now that we are focused on the main types of wraps available for horses, let’s turn our attention to how we can make sure that the fit is perfect for your individual equine friend, whether they are a dashing stallion or a playful foal.

Fitting Your Horse With A Rug

When looking for a rug for your horse, it is important to get the size, fit, and shape just right. A well-fitted rug can help protect your horse from the elements, while improperly fitted rugs can cause discomfort, rubbing, and even abrasions, affecting not just their manes and tails, but the whole of their bodies.

When fitting your horse, you need to take both the length and girth measurements into account as they graze in the pasture or interact with their herd. The length should be measured from the point of the shoulder over the top of the rump down to the tail. The girth measurement should be taken around the widest part of your horse’s chest behind the front legs. This is particularly important when measuring different horse types, such as geldings, mares, fillies, and colts, as their sizes and shapes may vary.

It is also essential to consider your horse’s confirmation when choosing a rug. For example, if your horse has an especially bulky hind end or deep chest, you will need to make sure that you select a rug specifically designed for them. Similarly, if you have a miniature horse or pony, then you should opt for a smaller-sized rug as a standard one may be far too big or heavy for them. Don’t forget to take into account the price of the rug, as well as any additional accessories or items that may be necessary for proper fitting and any delivery fees involved.

As with any piece of equipment, safety must be paramount and all fastening straps should remain secure at all times. Any buckles or clips should sit low on the neck to minimize chafing or rubbing and avoid injured skin tissue. Additionally, check each buckle individually before checking all of them together as some horses, such as a spirited colt or an untrained filly, may become uncharacteristically strong when all connections are made at once.

Finally, when it comes time to remove the rug itself, it is important to do so carefully with minimal fuss in order to prevent any further skin damage. If proper care is taken throughout this whole process, then not only will you ensure maximum comfort for your horse, regardless if it’s a mare or a gelding, but also ensure that your rug lasts as long as possible.

Having made sure that your chosen rug perfectly fits and protects your horse, it’s now time to assess what other features you should consider when selecting one – such as materials used, waterproofing capabilities, and breathability – all discussed in our next section: What To Look For In A Rug.

What to Look for in a Rug

Now that you know how to fit a rug properly, it is important to consider what qualities and features you should look for when purchasing one for your horse. Ideally, the rug should be made with breathable fabric so that your horse does not overheat. It should also have a waterproof outer layer, which is essential to ensuring that your horse stays dry. Additionally, look for a rug that provides insulation; this will help keep your horse warm in colder temperatures. For layering purposes, opt for rugs made of thicker material as these offer better protection from wind and rain.

Another factor to consider is if the rug comes with attachments such as straps or buckles, as some may be ill-fitting due to the lack of any adjustable fittings. In regards to design, think about whether you want striped or solid colors as some horses might feel restricted by patterns. Some owners just can’t leave them alone well enough, but some horses thrive with added details like fancy frills and tassels. It ultimately boils down to personal preference, so decide based on what you think best fits your horse’s personality and physical needs.

Some may argue that rugs are not necessary, since horses already come equipped with fur coats of their own. However, this coat was not designed for extreme weather conditions, and neglecting your horse’s winter attire could lead to potential health risks such as pneumonia and skin problems caused by exposure to moisture and chill generated from cold winds. That’s why investing in a rug, along with its accompanying items and accessories, is crucial for your horse’s well-being, regardless of whether it’s a colt or a mare. Therefore, a rug that meets all the criteria discussed above can help ensure the well-being of your horse during cold winter days, much like an area rug can add warmth and comfort to your home.

While there are many factors to consider when purchasing a rug for your horse, understanding the basics such as size, fit, material type, and durability is key in order to make sure you get the best value out of the product you choose. Next, we will dive further into describing what types of materials make a durable rug and how they can benefit both your horse’s comfort and overall health in harsh weather conditions. Considering the content of this discussion, it can even help you sort through options for rugs in other areas of your life, such as a kitchen rug or a black rug for your kids’ room.

Material and Durability

The material and durability of your horse rug are important factors when choosing the best product for your animal. While some materials have been designed to be heavier and offer more protection, this additional weight can inhibit the natural movement of your horse, leading to potential discomfort or soreness. On the other hand, lightweight materials may offer limited protection from extreme weather conditions but can prove beneficial for those who live in relatively mild climates.

When assessing the durability of a horse rug, it’s necessary to examine the stitching as well as the strength and stretch levels of the fabric. Look out for double-sewn or reinforced areas as these are strong indicators that quality craftsmanship has gone into making the rug. Additionally, some materials also include lightweight layers which help provide added insulation while not compromising breathability. This can be extremely beneficial during the colder months.

Regardless of your preference in terms of weight or material, looking out for products that are made with high-quality fabrics is essential in ensuring that they last and serve their purpose. Taking into account all of these factors will ensure you purchase a rugged product that is both comfortable and durable for your horse. As such, it becomes easier to sort through suitable options within your budget.

With all that in mind, it’s time to move on to examining different design and fitting aspects for each type of rug available on the market. The ideal choice for you and your horse largely depends on these factors, so gaining an understanding will assist you in finding the perfect match for your needs.

Design and Fitting

Design and fitting are the final factors to consider when buying horse rugs. It’s important that you buy a rug that fits your horse perfectly, as an ill-fitting one can cause great discomfort and health risks, including rubs and sores. Each layer of a horse’s coat needs to be taken into consideration when selecting a rug size, as too big or too small can both be potentially harmful.

When deciding on what design to opt for, it depends largely on the purpose of the rug and the individual needs of your horse. For instance, turnout blankets are designed for day wear in the field and should be lightweight to allow for freedom of movement, whereas stable rugs are thicker to provide extra warmth during winter nights. Some styles come with features such as chest buckles, surcingle closures for extra security, detachable hoods for cold weather, reflective strips for low-light visibility, and liners or under blankets for additional insulation during colder months.

All responsible manufacturers will have a sizing guide available for their products to ensure their customers make an informed decision. However, there are conflicting opinions on whether measuring tapes or professional rug fitters should be used – some believe that fittings carried out by professionals are more reliable as they better adapt to individual shapes and body types, while others argue that this is an unnecessary expense since tape measurements are just as accurate. Ultimately, whatever decision you make here comes down to personal preference.

Having considered material and durability when it comes to purchasing horse rugs, understanding how temperature and weather protection plays a role is essential in order to take into account what environment it will be used in.

Temperature and Weather Protection

Temperature and weather protection are major considerations before buying a horse rug. Horse rugs come in varying levels of thickness, insulation, and waterproofing. Some provide light protection from the elements, while others are more suited to seasonal changes. Those in cold climates may need more protection than those closer to the equator. Therefore, it is important to determine the type of weather conditions and temperature range for which the horse rug will be used.

In addition, one must evaluate how much coverage or warmth they want their horse rug to provide. Certain models are designed solely for temperature and windproofing, while others focus on ensuring that the horse stays drier when exposed to wetter weather. Ultimately, buyers will have to balance temperature and water protection against weight, breathability and the amount of freedom they allow the animal. For example, some lighter-weight designs won’t offer as much resistance against cold temperatures, while heavier ones can trap heat but can weigh down the horse if worn for too long or during periods of strenuous activity.

Ultimately, it’s important to find a good balance between comfort, protection, and flexibility for your horse. For example, a lightweight version might be suitable for mild weather conditions in summer but could leave your horse unprotected from colder temperatures in winter. While this may put more strain on you to buy multiple types of rugs over the year, it could also help ensure that your animal always has the right amount of warmth and protection without compromising its movement or comfort. With this knowledge in mind, let’s look at how these traits can benefit your horse when choosing a rug.

Benefits of These Rugs

The benefits of horse rugs are that they offer temperature and weather protection for horses, regardless of the outdoor climate. Horse rugs keep horses warm on colder days and provide cooler coverings when it’s too hot. Horse rugs can be regulated to the changing temperatures throughout the day or season, meaning that the owner does not need to constantly switch between summer and winter blankets depending on daily temperatures. Additionally, horse rugs protect horses from wind, rain and other harsh elements, providing an important layer of protection when they are kept out in pastures or paddocks.

On one hand, some people argue that horse rugs should only be used in very specific climates and conditions. They might claim that while horse rugs are beneficial in areas with extreme cold or significant rainfall, they can cause a horse to become too hot if left on during warmer months or periods of the day. Proponents would suggest that horse owners need to carefully consider the type of blanket needed based on the local climate conditions before buying a rug for their horses.

Conversely, others maintain that keeping horses protected from extreme temperatures and other environmental factors is essential year-round, so even if there is no definite “cold” season at a particular place, appropriate rugs should still be used. This claim is backed up by veterinarians who state that some form of temperature control for animals should always be taken into consideration when living outdoors, especially young foals whose immune systems are not yet fully formed. Thick winter blankets can also be used on colder nights or turned inside out or partially removed during hotter days for better air flow and circulation. Horse owners should always consult with a vet before deciding what kind of rug they need to purchase, as different climates require distinct levels of insulation and breathability in order to best protect their animal.

Most Common Questions

What are the different types available?

The types of horse rugs available are varied and depend on the type of activity the rider intends to pursue. For example, turnout rugs provide all weather protection for horses living outside, with waterproof options also available. Stable rugs are designed to keep horses warm and comfortable in stables, and choose a style depending on the level of insulation needed. Exercise sheets and fly sheets help protect horses while being active outdoors, while lightweight mesh options allow air flow while keeping insects away. Saddlecloths provide a layer of padding between the horse and saddle, aiding comfort and preventing rubbing. Lastly, travel boots or wraps provide additional safety when traveling by trailer or plane and prevent rubbing of straps or buckles. With such a variety of solutions for different situations, it is important to consider your needs when looking for a horse rug that best suits your situation.

How should they be sized and fitted?

When purchasing a horse rug, it is important to ensure that it has been correctly sized and fitted. Generally, there is less wiggle room when it comes to rugs – they should fit snugly around your horse’s neck and shoulders, allowing freedom of movement with minimal bulk. The chest area of the rug should also be sufficiently wide enough so that it doesn’t restrict your horse’s breathing when galloping.

Typically, rugs are available in a range of sizes based on your horse’s height and weight, or measurements of your horse’s body, such as withers, height, and length between the point of shoulders and tail. If you are unsure of what size rug to buy for your horse, ask an experienced professional such as your vet or local saddlery for advice.

In addition, take into account any additional features you may need: a longer neck piece for horses with long necks; additional belly straps for horses prone to slipping on the rug; or specific fabric to suit climates from extreme cold to tropical heat. Finally, once the rug is purchased, put it on properly and check any fastenings regularly to ensure that it fits well and is comfortable for your horse.

What are the benefits?

Using a horse rug provides many benefits for both the horse and the owner. Firstly, it helps to keep the horse warm and dry by providing an additional layer of protection over their coat. This can prevent them becoming chilled and suffering from any associated health problems. Horse rugs not only protect against the elements, but some are designed to provide extra insulation or cooling when horses are exercising, ensuring that your horse remains comfortable during changes in temperature. Secondly, it helps to protect the horse’s coat from dirt, dust, pests and parasites which can cause skin irritations or diseases. The fact that many horse rugs on the market today offer anti-bacterial and UV protection adds further to this benefit. Lastly, a well-fitted rug is essential for helping to keep flies away from your horse, which can otherwise lead to further issues such as skin sores or distress due to constant biting or irritation. All these advantages make investing in a quality horse rug a beneficial purchase for both horse and owner.

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