With winter approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your horse’s winter wardrobe and deciding whether you need to buy new rugs. Because rug design has come such a long way in recent years, many are now multi-purpose with enhanced comfort for both field and stable wear. Some can even be adapted for the weather simply by adding additional liners beneath the fabric. So, if you are at all unsure about choosing the right rug this winter, why not read VioVet's top tips!

- Choose a rug with the right level of polyfill. All horses will have different requirements when it comes to rugging so be wary of adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Native breeds and cob-types have evolved with a hardiness that allows them to cope much better in cold British winters than finer breeds like Arabs and Thoroughbreds, originally bred in hotter environments.

You don’t want to over-rug your horse and make him uncomfortable, and you don’t want to under-rug and leave him cold. Nowadays, the weight of a rug doesn’t always dictate its warmth and a rug that is physically light may well be very warm with the right level of polyfill. If you see sweat when you take the rug off, you know the polyfill is too heavy or you are over-rugging your horse.

- Measure your horse up correctly before buying a new rug. Most rugs are sized in three inch increments which refers to the distance between the chest of the horse and its rear end. Some horses will have measurements in-between sizes, so always opt for the bigger size. Rugs that are too big may slip and affect your horse’s movement or cause injury, while undersized rugs can cause sores and discomfort.

- Rugging requirements also depend on the weight of your horse. Overweight horses might not need rugging at all, or just a very light rug will suffice. This is because, in winter, horses will use up to 80% of their feed energy keeping warm. Horses with a lighter rug will burn more calories, which is better for those carrying extra weight. On the other hand, horses going into winter a bit on the thin-side will probably need more rugging. Particularly young and particularly old horses will be the same.

- Think about putting an under-rug beneath your turnout rug to maintain the condition of your horse’s coat and provide added warmth when the weather gets extra chilly. Some people prefer to use a combination of under rugs and add/take them away depending on the climate.

The ClimateMasta Turnout Rug is a unique product that allows you to insert separate liners depending on the weather and your horse’s needs. These are waterproof, machine-washable and channel-quilted for comfort, warmth and practicality. This innovative design feature means you can convert your rug from lightweight to mediumweight or heavyweight depending on the liner.

- Consider the material of the rug when choosing which to buy. A rug with a higher denier will be heavier and more durable. Also look for words like ‘breathability,’ which usually implies a special coating has been applied to the underside of the material, allowing air to pass through and sweat to wick away; ‘waterproof’ for keeping your horse dry 24/7 and ‘rip-stop.’

Decoding rug descriptions:

Polyfill – an insulating lining found in horse rugs which is not dissimilar from the poly-fibre found in pillows. The level or weight of polyfill is measured in grams, with most rugs containing between 100-300g depending on the design and quality. In mid-winter when temperatures plummet, many people prefer to use a 300g rug than a 200g one with multiple under-rugs. However, even in mid-winter, some horses that are naturally ‘hotter’ than others will be perfectly fine with just a lighter rug.

Denier – refers to the durability of the outer fabric used on rugs. The higher the denier, the greater the strength and durability. An everyday strength for a turnout rug is 600 denier, although many go up to 1200+ denier nowadays. If your horse is notorious for destroying its rugs, you are much better off getting one with a higher denier. A rug with lower denier will rip and tear more easily, calling for frequent replacement.

Rip-stop – a term that refers to the weave of the fabric, which also signals durability. Rip-stop fabrics tend to be thicker and stronger as the cross-hatching of the threads better reinforces the fabric. There is no guarantee that rip-stop rugs won’t rip and tear, but they are less likely to than standard rugs without it. If a tear does occur, the rip-stop will prevent it from progressing and ultimately destroying the rug.

If you have any comments, questions, or need advice on choosing the right rug, feel free to comment below or contact us directly: [email protected]

Written by: Hannah