Choosing the right horse rug can be an overwhelming experience when they come in so many different sizes and materials. With so many options to choose from, how do you find the one that’s best suited to your horse?
We take a look at why rugging is important, and what to consider when purchasing a rug for your horse.
Do all horses need rugging?
Horses often need rugging in winter. Wearing a rug can have a number of benefits, including weather protection and keeping your horse’s coat in good condition.
Depending on the breed and your individual horse’s resistance to cold and damp weather, your horse may need to wear a rug most of the time or just occasionally when the weather is particularly bad.
Using rugs in summer is not recommended except in a few very specific circumstances, for example if your horse is allergic to insect bites or you're planning to show them and want to protect their coat from sun damage.
Why is choosing the right horse rug so important?
Rug choice is not something you should take lightly. The wrong rug can not only be ineffective; it can be harmful to your horse’s health.
Here are a few things to take into consideration when you’re selecting a rug for your horse.
- Is a rug really necessary? Before you rush out and buy a rug, make sure your horse really needs one. Depending on how cold it gets where you live and the breed of horse you have, rugging might not be necessary. Some breeds, like thoroughbreds, are less resilient to cold so a rug will probably be needed. But every horse is different, regardless of breed. Just like humans, some horses feel the cold more than others.
- Does it fit? A poorly fitting rug may rub, leading to sores, and may restrict your horse’s movement. This can actually lead to your horse being colder in winter as they are unable to move around to keep warm. Make sure your horse’s rug is a good fit and check it regularly to make sure it’s not rubbing and hasn’t moved out of place.
- Think about thickness. Because horses tend to fluff up their coats to trap air in the winter, a thin rug can prevent the natural heating process and make your horse colder than no rug at all. This is especially the case if it’s a bad fit and reduces your horse’s movement. If you are using a rug, make sure it’s thick enough to be effective but not so heavy it’s uncomfortable.
How to care for your rugged horse
When your horse is wearing a rug, they will need to be checked twice a day to make sure the rug hasn’t slipped and the straps are not broken. It’s also important that you regularly remove the rug to check for any rubbed spots as well as monitoring your horse for any weight loss or gain.
Because rugging your horse gets in the way of natural exfoliation and mutual grooming, you’ll need to regularly groom your horse thoroughly to get rid of dead hair and skin cells.
Rugging is a great way to keep your horse warm and dry during the colder and wetter months. Just make sure you choose the right rug and keep a careful eye on your pet to ensure the rug is helping and not hindering your horse.