If you’re new to owning a horse you, like many others, may have no idea what a horse rug actually is. But the easiest way to look at it is: you get cold? So does your horse.
A horse rug is essentially a type of coat for your horse that keeps it warm and protects it from the elements, basically making sure your horse is as comfortable as it can be while protecting it from various weather.
- Protect your horse from the rain, meaning they are less likely to get sick.
- Many rugs are made of special materials that will protect your horse’s coat and skin from the sun, which will prevent sunburn and coat bleaching.
- Protecting your horse from insects will stop it from getting bitten which will reduce any irritation or infection that bug bites may cause.
- When your horse is wearing a rug, it will significantly reduce the amount of dust and dirt that gets into your horse’s coat. Meaning the horse will be more comfortable overall, and the time that you spend grooming and cleaning your horse’s coat will be greatly reduced.
- If your horse is going to be in a show soon, a rug will act as a perfect way to keep its coat looking perfectly groomed and clean beforehand.
- Elderly or sick horses may need a rug more than young and healthy horses throughout the year to keep it warm.
The rug will generally cover the entirety of your horse’s back and top of its legs, but some may cover the neck and some of the horse’s head, too.
Measuring Your Horse for a Rug
To measure your horse for a rug, you will need to use a soft tape measure and measure horizontally from the centre of the horse’s chest, around its shoulder, along the side of the body, then to the end of the horse’s rump.
Below will show your horse measures (in inches) compared to which horse rug size you would be looking at in the UK.
- 45-48” – 4’0”
- 49-51” – 4’3”
- 52-54” – 4’6”
- 55-57” – 4’9”
- 58-60” – 5’0”
- 61-63” – 5’3”
- 64-66” – 5’6”
- 67-69” – 5’9”
- 70-72” – 6’0”
- 73-75” – 6’3”
- 76-78 – 6’6”
- 79-81” – 6’9”
- 82-84” – 7’0”
- 85-87” – 7’3”
Main Types of Horse Rugs
A turnout rug will generally be used to keep horses warm and dry when they’re outside. Generally made of water and windproof material to keep your horse protected from the wind and rain, while staying breathable enough for your horse’s sweat to evaporate. Turnout rugs can be paired with blankets underneath to provide the horse with additional warmth.
The majority of turnout rugs will have leg and body straps so that the rug stays secure when your horse is moving around the field.
Horses that live inside most of the time would benefit the most from a stable rug, they mainly act as a source of warmth for a horse that can’t run around freely to generate its own body heat to warm itself up when the weather is cold.
These rugs don’t need to be waterproof so they’re generally quilted and act solely for warmth, while being synthetic and breathable so that the horse can also sweat when it needs to cool down. This makes it perfect for a horse that lives indoors all year round.
These mesh rugs will act mainly to prevent your horse from being irritated by flies and other insects when it’s outside during the summer months, which means they will be able to relax outside and enjoy grazing the fields.
These rugs will be light and extremely breathable which makes them perfect for warmer temperatures, while also giving the horse protection from the sun. Some of these rugs will provide greater cover on the horse’s body than others, some only covering the horse’s back where others will cover the neck and belly of the horse, as well.
Summer sheets (may also be known as show sheets) are the best rug if you want to give your horse a light layer of warmth during the summer months while also keeping its coat looking fresh, clean and dust free.
These rugs are popular when a horse is being prepared for a show or event, as it’s very lightweight and will keep your horse looking freshly washed and groomed while in transit.
Horses can take longer to both cool down and warm up, so a horse rug is vital to keep your horse feeling comfortable all year round.