How to Choose a Horse Rug

How to Choose a Horse Rug

All Countrywide Stores have equestrian specialist staff trained and available to assist you in your selection and purchase of a rug to suit your individual requirements.

The comprehensive rug range includes:

Buying the correct rug is an important choice for both you and your horse. The right choice leads to a comfortable and happy horse with a suitable and well fitting rug. Whenever considering purchasing a horse rug you need to consider the following:

  • Type of Use required
  • Breed and Condition of your horse
  • Weight of rug filling
  • Fabric Strength
  • Style
  • Size
  • Environment

Measuring for Your Rug Size

It is very important to ensure you have bought the correct size of rug for your horse. Each horse is different and each style and type of rug fits differently. Therefore before you start measuring rugs it is useful to take note of a rug you know fits well and look for rugs with a similar shape or features. Countrywide stocks a comprehensive range of rugs from various suppliers, including Weatherbeeta, Shires and Mark Todd. You will also find Kadence branded rugs in store which are available only from Countrywide Farmers. Most of these branded rugs are available in sizes 4’0 – 7’6” in 3 inch increments. It is most common to see rugs measured in feet and inches. This is a measurement taken from the centre of your horse’s chest to the point of buttock.

You will also see measurements in centimeters on some rugs – this is measured from the withers along the spine to the top of the tail. Be sure to measure in the correct unit for the measurement you are taking.

To get an accurate measurement use a soft tape measure and ask someone to help you. If you are unsure of the measurement you have taken you can double check by spreading a well fitting rug flat on the floor and measure from the front of the chest clips to the bottom of the rug. Do not include the tail flap. This is helpful to confirm you have an accurate measurement.

Rug Fitting Diagram

It is important to make sure that you buy the correct size rug for your horse or pony to ensure that it stays in place and is a comfortable fit. Measure your horse or pony from the centre of its chest, along its body to the rear of its quarters, as indicated. See diagram and sizes chart.

To fit approx. hands high 11.2 12.0 12.2 13.0 13.2 14.0 14.2 15.0 15.2 16.0 16.2 17.0 17.2
Rug size in feet 4' 4'3'' 4'6'' 4'9'' 5' 5'3'' 5'6'' 5'9'' 6' 6'3'' 6'6'' 6'9'' 7'
Rug size in inches 48'' 51'' 54'' 57'' 60'' 63'' 66'' 69'' 72'' 75'' 78'' 81'' 84''

Fitting your New Rug

When you have purchased your rug it is highly recommended that you try it on over the top of a clean cotton sheet or fleece to ensure you are happy with the fit. This way your new rug will stay clean and you can return it to the store with its packaging if you are not happy with the fit.

Step One

Use a clean and dry rug as an under-rug to keep your new rug clean until you are sure it fits correctly. A cotton sheet is good for this as it is not bulky and will not affect the fit of your new rug.

Step Two

Place the rug well forward on the horse’s back and slide it towards the tail until the front seam rests naturally forward of his withers. For a standard neck this is the seam around the neck piping, on high neck or combo rugs where there is no seam ensure the rug fits with the contours of the horses neck and shoulders and this will guide you to the right place.

Ensure that you follow the line of his shoulder - this will create enough room to allow the rug to create a ‘cupping’ so the material is not pulling on the shoulder. The top of the tail flap is designed to sit at the top of your horse’s tail. A good point to note: If the seam between the tail flap and the rug/blanket falls below the top of the tail, the blanket is too big.

Step Three

Now fasten the leg and chest straps. Fit the chest straps to the correct width – all should be adjustable. You need to ensure the rug is tight enough to stay in place while still allowing for the movement of the horse to make sure your rug does not rub. To keep the rug in place it is important to fasten the leg straps correctly. Pass the left leg strap between the hind legs and fasten it to the D-ring on the left-hand side. Now, thread the right leg strap between the legs, making sure it also passes through the left leg strap, and then fasten it to the D-ring on the right-hand side.

Step Four

Fasten the cross surcingles under the horses stomach. Make sure the straps are fastened diagonally under the horse and allow a hand’s width between the straps and belly. Again you will find all cross surcingles are adjustable.

Different Styles of Rugs

Within each ‘type’ of rug you will find a choice of different ‘styles’ these styles describe the features of the rug. Countrywide stock a wide range of rugs and most of these rugs are available either direct from store or ordered in for you in the varying different styles. These include standard neck rugs, high neck rugs, detachable neck rugs and combo rugs.

A ‘standard’ rug has a neck that stops at the horses wither and leaves the neck exposed. This is usually a good option for lighter weight rugs for warmer weather.

A ‘high’ neck is a neck that extends beyond the withers, but does not cover the whole neck. High neck styles are a good choice if your horse has prominent withers or has problems with rubbing with standard styles, as there is no direct pressure on the withers.

A ‘detachable’ neck rug has the same shape to the rug as a standard neck but is specifically designed to be able to attach a matching neck cover. These rugs are great for flexibility as the neck can be attached at any time to add warmth and protection should the weather change.

Combo style rugs have a permanently attached neck that covers nearly the whole neck up to the ears. This is an extremely popular rug style, and this style offers the most warmth and protection. You won’t have to keep track of a separate neck rug or worry about leakages as the neck is permanently attached.

About Waterproof and Breathable Rugs

All good turnout rugs should be waterproof and breathable. These qualities are often misunderstood. ‘Breathable’ rugs have a special hydrophilic (‘water loving’) coating on the underside of the outer fabric. The coating works by drawing moisture away from the horse and towards the rug outer – this is aided by the temperature difference between the warm horse and the cold outside air. This coating is special because it allows sweat to evaporate, but doesn’t let water in. The reason for this is that the coating has ‘micro pores’ that are large enough to let water vapor out, but are too small for water droplets to come in.

However there is a limit to how much moisture can evaporate from your horses coat at any one time. This means that if a horse is sweating heavily underneath the rug then the moisture cannot evaporate quickly enough to dry him out. Many people mistake this for leaking. If your horse is sweating heavily enough for this you need to consider the weight or type of rug you are using.

The outer of the rug is treated to be waterproof. The waterproof coating on your rug will slowly diminish with time and usage but can be prolonged through good care. If you notice your rug has started to loose it’s waterproof properties you can re-proof it yourself using a specialist spray for synthetic fabrics from your local Countrywide Store. Or alternatively ask in store for details on our Rug Cleaning Service who would be happy to clean, mend and re-proof your rug for you.

In very heavy or prolonged rain you may notice a small amount of moisture leaking through your rug. This is because the seams on heavier materials are only designed to withstand certain amounts of water. Areas that this may affect include where the surcingles/straps are sewn on and the tail flap. This is across all brands of rugs and relates to the layers of fabric sewn together to provide the level of protection required from our heavier rugs. We recommend that in persistent wet weather you change your horse’s rug regularly and allow them to dry thoroughly before re-use.

Understanding the Fabric

All horse rugs come with certain labels on them, ‘Denier’, ‘Rip-stop’ and so on. These are used to describe the quality of certain properties of the material used for the rug.

Denier is the measure of the weight of the material. It relates to the number of yarns used to make one thread, e.g. a rug labeled as 600D will have 600 yarns to each thread used. 1200D will have 1200 yarns to each thread used. This will give a slightly bulkier and harder wearing fabric. It is a useful measure to look at when you are choosing a rug.

Other features you will see include ‘rip-stop’ this means that the material is interwoven with rip-stop reinforcement threads at intervals in a cross hatch pattern. This makes the fabric much more resilient to damage. It will not tear easily as the threads run in two directions.

Another useful property to look for is Ballistic nylon. This is similar to rip-stop but it involves a 2x2 or 2x3 weave rather than just the interspaced weave. It makes a fabric very strong and resistant to abrasion and tearing. It is also hard to dye – you may only find this in darker colored rugs.

Polypropylene fabrics are also often used. This description relates to how the fabric is produced, it is a thermoplastic polymer – a type of plastic. This makes it water resistant and therefore an excellent option for rugs, especially turnout. Although you will see it used in some stable rugs too. It offers an excellent replacement for polyester coated rugs – its strength to weight ratio is much higher.

Brands We Stock

Kadence

View our range of Kadence products here.

WeatherBeeta

Visit the WeatherBeeta website here: www.weatherbeeta.co.uk.

View our range of WeatherBeeta products here.

Mark Todd

Visit the Mark Todd website here: www.marktoddeventing.com.

View our range of Mark Todd products here.

Shires

Visit the Shires website here: www.shiresequestrian.com/uk.

View our range of Shires products here.

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