Horse Rugs Explained

There are so many different breeds out there that sometimes it is hard to know what to do for your horse. Taking a look at horse rugs and when it is appropriate to use which rug when, this article should answer all your rug related questions. Here are our tips on choosing a horse rug.

Why rug a horse up?

A lot of people are probably wondering what is the point in putting a rug on your horse as those in the wild do not have someone to go out and put a rug on them when it gets a bit cold outside; well horses that live in the wild have acclimatised to this style of living and have developed much thicker coats as well as developing an immunity to the cold weather. As soon as you take a horse and turn it into either a pet or a competitive animal it then becomes a lot more dependent on what you might refer to as 'luxuries' for example; a rug.

Horse rug types

There are various different types of rug that can be split into five main categories:

  1. Turnout Rugs
  2. Stable Rugs
  3. Summer Rugs and Fly Sheets
  4. Exercise Rugs/Sheets and Fleeces
  5. Sweat Rugs

For an introduction to one leading brand, read about Weatherbeeta horse rugs and their popular range.

These can also be divided according to thickness and style, for example some rugs come complete with a neck which means not only do the cover the body of the horse but that also stretch up to the poll to keep its neck warm.

Turnout rugs come in various different sizes including; lightweight, medium-weight and heavyweight. This type of rug is put on the horse when they go out in the field and will always be waterproof to protect the horse from adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow and sleet.

Stable rugs again come in a variety of sizes from lightweight to heavyweight and can also come with and without a neck. These are often quilted and will keep the horse warm at night when it is standing in the stable.

Summer rugs and fly sheets serve no purpose in keeping the horse warm they are merely to either protect the horse from flies biting their body in the summer or to keep them covered from that occasional summer rain (usually because you cannot put a saddle on a wet horse and the weather is so unpredictable).

Exercise rugs and fleeces are often used at competitions, you can get waterproof exercise sheets that cover the horses back and the saddle rests on top or you can get fleece exercise sheets that are designed to keep clipped horses warm during the colder months when they are standing about perhaps waiting to go into the competition ring. Fleeces are often used to keep the horse warm for travelling or sometimes put on in the stable when its too hot for a proper stable rug.

Sweat rugs are designed with little holes in so they allow the horses skin to breathe. They are used after the horse has done some hard work, for example; cross country and they stop the horse from getting cold when they are standing still after working.

Not all horses need rugs. A huge factor in deciding if your horse needs to be rugged up and how is their breed. For example; Thoroughbred types are a lot finer naturally and they have much thinner coats, as they generally work as competition horses it is vital to keep them warm especially in winter as it can even cause weight loss.

In contract looking at a Dartmoor pony, they have naturally thick coats and a lot more fat to keep them warm so there isn't much need to rug them up at all, perhaps a sheet would be advisable to protect them from the rain but they generally provide all the warmth they need themselves.

Horse rugs can be very expensive. Whilst it's very important not to sacrifice quality you can save some money. Read our tips on buying cheap horse rugs.