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Let's Talk Rugs

Admit it, we all have a growing collection of rugs. Some don’t even fit, and we can’t remember why we have them, some are no longer waterproof, and some don’t resemble a rug at all anymore! This guide will help you to decide what rugs you need and how to look after the ones that you have got.


Indecisive weather

Deciding which rug to put can be a headache, especially this time of year when the weather is more indecisive than the current UK government! Many horse owners are tempted to over-rug, however, horses are very good at regulating their own temperature and are happy in conditions of 5°c-25°c. They find it much easier to warm up than to cool down meaning that over-rugging can cause them to become quite uncomfortable. The most important thing at this time of year is to make sure that your rugs are waterproof. Continue reading below for tips on how to keep them watertight for longer.


Points for consideration

For tips on rugging, take a look at the chart below. Remember that this is a guide, there are several things that you need to take into consideration when choosing the right rug.

· Senior horses and horses that struggle with arthritis may need extra warmth to maintain their body weight and prevent joint stiffness

· Young horses often do not need as thick of a rug, however, make sure that you take them off regularly to check for rug sores and their overall body condition

· Weight- overweight horses may benefit from a thinner rug to help them shed the pounds, whilst horses with poor condition will need the extra warmth

· Breed- it’s simple, native breeds are bred to survive in harsh conditions whilst hot-blooded horses are a little more sensitive!

· Shelter and forage- horses with shelter can get out of the wind and rain to keep warm, eating and digestion also produce heat so your horse will be warmer if they have plenty to eat


Rugging Guide

Please note, this is a guide only, each horse is different so check your horse regularly.


Cleaning your rugs

Although it makes us happy to have a nice clean rug, washing your rugs can affect their waterproof abilities…. And let’s face it…. it will be brown again in no time! Try to wash your rugs as little as often, normally only if the inside resembles and smells like a teenage boy’s football kit! When it does come time for washing, remember not to use a detergent-based washing powder as this will strip the waterproofing out of the rug and render it useless. Either send it away to a professional rug and reproofing service or purchase a detergent designed for rugs or waterproof clothing (you can find these in most tack shops)


If at all in doubt, slide your hand under your horse’s rug. If they feel cold to the touch, add another layer. If they are damp, put a dry rug on. If they feel hot or sweaty, take a layer off. Remember, if you have any concerns about your horse's health or body condition, always contact your vet first.

And to all the horse owners braving winter…. Good luck!

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