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Rugs andRugging

Measuring and fitting

The main points to remember when choosing a rug are that the length, depth and shape are correct for your horse. Some rugs are specially shaped over the quarters, and though they may be a perfect fit for one horse they can pull back and put pressure on the shoulders of another. It is important, therefore, to ensure that there is adequate room around the chest.

A rug is measured by its length, which is taken from the point at the withers to the edge of the rug near the tail. As the withers are very prone to pressure, most rugs have a soft fleecy pad in this area those without should be avoided, though if the rug is good in all other respects it is possible to sew in a patch yourself.

The depth of the rug is important, for warmth as well as for protection from stains. The sides of the rug should be long enough to ensure that none of the horse's belly shows underneath. This is especially important with a Canvas Rug which is also know as a 'New Zealand' rug these rugs are designed to protect the horse in all weather conditions.

Many rugs have adjustable leg straps, which should always be threaded through each other so that they will not rub on the sensitive area inside the hind leg.

Front fastenings should allow the rug to close together neatly across the chest without pulling, and should be easy to fasten. Make sure that the fastening material does not fray. Canvas rugs should overlap in front, for extra protection.


The Canvas or New Zealand Rug is designed to protect a horse from wind and rain. It is used mainly for horses that are out (not stabled) and in work, or for horses that live in cold weather climates. Traditionally made of canvas or flax, and lined with wool, the rug is very warm and weatherproof. The disadvantage of canvas is that it is bulky and heavy, and rugs can cause soreness on wither and shoulder areas, especially when wet most have fleecy pads for added protection at these points, which work well.

The rug is fitted with leg straps, and sometimes a surcingle to hold it in place. The straps must be kept soft and supple and should be threaded through each other to prevent chafing. They should be adjusted so that they hold the rug in place without being too loose otherwise a leg could become caught up if the horse rolled.

Surcingles are attached or slotted through slits in the sides of the rug. Some designs of rug have neck rug and extra linings, which may be attached to the rug.

Modern weatherproof materials are light and are less likely to cause pressure and soreness. Choose carefully, checking that fastenings are strong and easy to fit and adjust, and that the material does 'breathe', keeping the horse warm and dry whatever the weather.

Types of Rugs

Rugs are now available in a wide variety of materials. Many of these are machine washable, warm yet lightweight, and include:

Cotton, which is used for the summer rug as the natural fibres breathe.

Cotton mixed with nylon or acrylic works well but is normally not as cool as cotton alone.

Hessian and Jute are tough, warm and cheap. Generally lined with wool or blanketing, they are most frequently used for night rugs.

Wool is warm, 'breathes', and when used is universally accepted as the ideal rug for cold weather. There are many good wool and acrylic mixtures available, which can be machine washed if care is taken.

Canvas rugs, are long lasting, and are used for a horse living out, they are also known as New Zealand rugs, the canvas material is heavy but gives excellent protection from wind and rain.

Nylon is light, easily washable and fairly warm but it does not 'breathe' well.

Polyester and polyester filling used in 'dooner' rugs have become very popular, as they are lightweight and very warm.

The 'Mirotec Rug' has aluminium strips (similar to aluminium foil) sewn into the rug, its reflective qualities help to maintain an even body temperature and it works well on a wet horse.

Anti Sweat rugs, are made of string and allow natural evaporation to take place on a hot or sweaty horse, they should only be used on there own if the weather is warm, if the weather is cold place a cotton rug over the top to prevent chilling.

 

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