With so many rugs on the market, and such a massive variation in price, picking the right one for your horse can seem a bit daunting. Use our comprehensive guide to help you find your perfect fit…..
What size rug should I buy for my horse?
Horses, like humans, come in all different shapes and sizes so finding a perfect fitting rug can be tricky.
Firstly, get an idea of the length of rug you need. Measure your horse from the centre of his/her chest to their tail, ideally in inches. Rug sizes in the UK are most commonly measured in feet and inches (although we’re sure this was officially banned years ago!!) and are sold in sizes with a difference of 3″ between them e.g. 6ft3″, 6ft6″, 6ft9″, 7ft etc. Still not sure if you’ve got it right? Refer to our chart below to give you an approximate size guide.
Once you know approximately what size you’ll need, give your horse a critical once-over. Does he have a broad or skinny chest, is he very leggy or is a lot of his height made up of a ‘substantial’ body. Does he have prominent withers? All of these things can help you find a perfect fitting rug, rather than just an ‘ok’ one.
Armed with this information you can make an informed choice. Maybe look for a rug with lots of adjustment at the chest if your horse is broad in this area (the Bridleway brand is good for this), or choose a rug which is cut higher up the neck if your horse has boney withers to help minimise pressure points and rubs (Horseware rugs often solve this problem). Or come in and ask us our opinion. Between us we’ve got a real mixture of horses, all of whom suit different types of rugs.
INSIDER GUIDE. Badly fitting rugs can cause damage to your horse. Pressure points, particularly on the withers, can sometimes cause horrible rubs and sores. At the very least you should remove your horse’s rug once a day, give it a good shake out and refit it by putting it on half way up the neck and then gently pulling it back into place. If you’re still finding you’re getting rubs, consider investing in a different shape rug or a Bossys Bib.
I need an outdoor rug. What should I be looking for:
You’ll need a turnout rug (which back in the day we used to call a New Zealand rug). These are made from waterproof fabrics and will help keep your horse dry and warm.
INSIDER GUIDE Don’t automatically take your horse’s rug off if it is very wet. Provided your horse is warm and dry underneath then consider leaving that rug on – it will dry much more quickly on a warm horse than if it’s hung up in a cold, damp tack room.. Most turnout rugs these days are suitable for use inside as well as outside.
Decide how thick you need it to be. Do you just want a thin, lightweight rug or do you need something super warm and cosy? Think about whether your horse is going to be clipped and what breed it is and don’t forget that some horses might benefit from being left unrugged – even in the coldest weather.
INSIDER GUIDE Most rugs have a ‘fill’ (a bit like a duvet has a ‘tog’) and it is generally accepted that anything between a 100gm and 250gm fill is a mediumweight rug, and anything over that is a heavyweight rug. Lightweight rugs normally have no fill or a minimal 40gm or 50gm fill.Think about whether you want a rug with a neck/hood or not because proportionally horses lose very little of their body heat through their necks. Unless your horse is clipped then the main reason for having your horse’s neck covered is to make sure they’re dry and clean when you want to ride them. Some rugs have necks that are attached (a combo rug) and some have removable necks which in theory make the rug more versatile. In either case do be aware that having your horse’s neck covered can lead to the mane being rubbed out.
Insider Guide. The lighter and thinner a neck cover is the less likely it is to rub the mane. Sometimes a rug can rub at the withers too so always have a feel of the binding or any joins in the rug which might lead to pressure points and cause rubbing.
Should I spend a lot of money on a rug?
Only if you want to! All of the rugs we stock are well-made by reputable manufacturers and some are exceptionally good value for money. There is no doubt however that some rugs are better than others – you just need to decide whether you need that better quality rug in the first place. The main reason one rug is more expensive than another is because of the outer material that the rug is made from.
As a general rule the more expensive a rug (particularly a turnout rug) the better the quality the outer material is and this means:
- better waterproof properties (there are actual ways to measure just how waterproof a fabric is!);
- better breathability;
- stronger, more durable fabric which is less likely to rip and tear;
- longer lasting.
Still not sure? Come in and talk to us – our horses are in all sorts of rugs and we’ll make sure you get what you really need.
INSIDER GUIDE No rug can win when it’s up against a 600kg horse regardless of how expensive it was. Most rugs are pretty durable but straps and buckles will give way if they’re caught or tugged super hard and barbed wire is a particularly tricky opponent. If your problem is your horse’s ‘friend’ who likes to spend their free time attacking your horse’s rug then try painting on something like Cribox (or create your own foul tasting concoction using things like vinegar or mustard powder – but beware, this can stain!)
If most turnout rugs can be used indoors should I get a separate stable rug for my horse?
If you think you’ll use it. If you horse spends a lot of time inside, if they’re old, suffer badly from the cold or are recuperating after illness then they might prefer a stable rug which tends to be much lighter (for the same level of warmth) than turnout rugs.
I’d like an exercise sheet for my horse but I’ve no idea what size to buy?
– If you know your normal rug size then as a general rule, take off 18″ and you should have the approximate size you’ll need for an exercise rug. If in doubt then go up a size. An exercise sheet that is too small will pull and tug at the wither (whether you have a sheet that goes under the saddle, or does up in front of it) meaning you’ll be forever jumping off and adjusting it.
What about other rugs? What do I need?
Well that’s a whole other blog post! Look out for our ‘What rugs should my horse have?’ blog coming soon.
I think my rug is faulty what should I do?
Thankfully rugs these days are so well made that they are rarely faulty. If you think that your rug does have a genuine fault (rather than having been caught or damaged) bring it back in to us and we’ll do our best to sort it out (with your receipt if possible). It does have to be clean and dry for us to look at it though (we have a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1972 to make sure our staffs’ risks to health and hygiene problems are minimised) and it may have to be returned to the manufacture to determine whether there is a fault and if so, whether it will be replaced or repaired.
What’s the best brand of horse rug?
Well that depends. Obviously we all have our favourites but it would be impossible to describe which is the best as there are so many factors involved. Do you want the best value rug? The most durable? The one that will fit your particular horse the best?
Get in touch and we’ll help you find the best for your particular needs. At RB Equestrian we try really hard to keep a great selection of rugs, in store, ready for you to take away or for super quick delivery if you order with us online. Our brands are hand-picked by us so whatever the price point their rugs are all good. Visit us in store or online for a fantastic choice of rugs from Bridleway, Shires, Horseware, Weatherbeeta, Hy, LeMieux and more.
Approximate Rug Size Guide
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