How to choose your horse rug

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How to chose the size

The choice of rug is key to effectively protecting your "companion" from the cold. It is best to choose a rug that is suited to the temperatures and living conditions of your horse. A clipped horse will not need the same level of protection as an unclipped horse and a horse in a box stall will have different needs to a horse that is kept in a pasture.

 

The size of a rug is chosen according to the height of your horse in hands:

  • for a horse that measures 12 to 13.1 h, you need to choose size 115 cm (5'3").
  • for a horse that measures 13.1 to 14.3 h, you need to choose size 125 cm (5'9").
  • for a horse that measures 14.3 to 15.3 h, you need to choose size 135 cm (6'0").
  • for a horse that measures 15.3 to 16.3 h, you need to choose size 145 cm (6'3").
  • for a horse that measures 16.3 to 17.3 h, you need to choose size 155 cm (6'9").
  • for a horse that measures 17.3 h or more, you need to choose size 165 cm (7'0").

Always choose the right size of rug, if it is too small, your horse may tear it, if it is too big, it could move around. The adjustment of the cross straps (under the belly) is also very important. They must not be too tight in order to not cause discomfort to your horse but not too loose either as the horse could get one of their hind legs caught up in them which is very dangerous.

The leg straps must be adjusted to fit, not too loose nor too tight, as they stop the rug from sliding sideways.

 

1) Your horse is kept in a box stall

Horses in box stalls need protection from the cold because their movements do not enable them to generate sufficient heat to protect themselves.

For clipped horses, it is advisable to cover them with a warm stable rug (minimum 300 g). Stable rugs do not necessarily need to be waterproof but instead must be breathable to prevent the horse from sweating.

If your horse usually goes out in the paddock during the day, then cover them with a durable, waterproof rug.

When the temperatures are at their lowest, some riders add a fleece cooler under the existing rug for added warmth.

For an unclipped horse, a light (200 g) and breathable stable rug is enough to protect them in very cold weather. Of course, if your horse is ill or old, their resistance will not be the same and it is necessary to adapt their protection to their condition.

 

2) Your horse is kept in a pasture

The horse can comfortably spend the winter without a rug if they have a shelter to protect themselves from the weather. A turned out horse is almost constantly moving, allowing them to generate some heat naturally.

If you decide to cover your horse, it is essential to choose a waterproof, durable and, of course, breathable rug. For better freedom of movement, "field" rugs usually feature shoulder pleats. Finally, as horses have a habit of turning their backs to the rain, a tail flap provides optimum protection.

 

3) Tips

  • To see if your horse is well protected from the cold, you can slide your hand under their rug: if their skin is cold, it means that they are not sufficiently protected.
  • Be sure to gradually remove the rugs to avoid thermal shock.
  • Remember to clean your rugs regularly, a dirty blanket may cause irritation of the skin.
  • Re-waterproof your outdoor rugs with a product made for this purpose.
  • To avoid wear to the breast or neck hair, Lycra shoulder guards are available
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